Priests told not to quiet noisy kids at Mass

Priests in England and Wales have been told to put up with noisy children at Mass, as Church leaders encourage more families to go to church on Sundays.

Bishop Kieran Conroy, who chairs the England and Wales bishops’ evangelisation committee, said he “strongly discouraged” priests from intervening to prevent children talking during Mass.

Bishop Conry, the bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said it was “dreadful” that in some cases children had been ejected from services for being too noisy.

His comments came after an incident during a Mass at the London Oratory in 2010, when Fr Ignatius Harrison, the provost, said there was “no point” in him preaching against the noise of babies.

At the time, some Church figures defended his actions, saying parents should simply exert more discipline over their children during services.

Bishop Conroy’s comments came as the Church in England and Wales published research showing that “trivial obstacles” were preventing Catholics “reconnecting” with church.

He said interviews with dozens of baptised parents had shown that there were “clear and everyday things” that could be done to encourage people to attend services.

One of those factors was recognising that the sound of children was a “really good noise” to hear in church.

Bishop Conry suggested that tolerating noisy children in church was in line with Pope Francis’s emphasis on the importance of families.

“Pope Francis is saying that the family is at the heart of the Church. The family is children – that’s what families are for.”

“Church is not for my generation, it’s for all generations, and I would never comment on children’s noise in church and would discourage any priest to make any comment.

“I’ve heard awful stories of priests stopping the service and saying, in effect, remove that child. That’s a dreadful message to give out.”

Bishop Conroy said it is important that children don’t associate church with discipline and fear.

The research cited other factors which put parents off going to church such as non-family friendly Mass times and the impression that parishes are run for older, regular church-goers only.

Many of the 146 respondents said they were more likely to go to Mass regularly if there was a good children’s liturgy and if they were personally invited.

Many also said they felt they had a connection to Pope Francis, and appreciated the Church’s “spiritual benefits”.


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