Cork & Ross ballots on church gate collectionsMonday, April 23rd, 2012
Cork and Ross could be become the first Catholic diocese in the country to outlaw church gate collections when the result of ballot taken at a number of churches in the diocese is known in the coming days.
The diocese, which includes a number of parishes in Cork City, decided to hold the ballot at the weekend amid fears that church gate collections that are usually held after Mass for a variety of different organisations including charities, sports clubs, community organisations and political parties, are discouraging people from attending Mass.
Consequently massgoers in a number of Cork city parishes, including Wilton, Ballyphehane, Rochestown, Togher, Mahon and Douglas were handed ballot papers after all weekend Masses, asking them whether they felt church gate collections in their respective parishes should continue or not.
If the ballot is ratified, parish priests will write to the specific charities involved and ask them to voluntarily abide by the ban and not hold collections outside churches.
It is believed however that such a ban must be voluntary and cannot be legally enforced once the collection is not held on church property. However most observers accept that should the ban come into place it will be accepted by all organisations.
Speaking about the proposals, the parish priest of Douglas Canon Teddy O'Sullivan confirmed, “Individual parishes would not be allowed adopt an independent position on the issue if the ban is introduced. It will apply to all churches it the area.”
Canon O'Sullivan added, “Many individuals felt under financial pressure and occasionally harassed by the number of collections they faced en route to Mass.”
To date no diocese has banned church gate collections outright, however, a number of individual parishes including some in Meath and North Tipperary have banned church gate collections on church property after Mass.
by Sean Ryan