Parishes to defy Government traffic light system

Parishes to defy Government

As least two New Zealand Catholic parishes intend to defy the Government mandated traffic light system.

Fr Jeremy Palman, the parish priest of Holy Family Parish, Te Atatu, Auckland, labels compliance as discriminatory saying he will not refuse anyone’s presence at any Mass on the basis of their vaccination status.

Citing skin colour, race, ethnicity, religion, genetics and disability as examples, Palman says that throughout history, too many times the Church has found “good reasons” to exclude people on the basis of “some natural bodily condition”.

“Given that the Vaccine Certificate System requires monitoring for Mass attendance and discrimination against the unvaccinated, Holy Family will not be segregating Masses.

“And we will not be refusing anyone’s presence at any Mass on the basis of their vaccination status”, Palman says, writing in The Daily Examiner and on his parish website (last accessed 11:50, 29 November 2021).

However, in charity, he is offering special consideration to the vaccinated to sit in the Crying Room and the Choir Loft.

The vaccine status of people accessing either place will not be checked.

Both places will be administered “on trust”.

Palman says that people’s vaccination status is part of their private medical information and his parish will not be ascertaining it for the purposes of Mass attendance.

“We will not be a pawn for the State… and we will not be asking some parishioners to act as vaccine-policemen towards other parishioners.

“Every Mass is a public liturgy, and any Catholic has the right to attend.

“All Masses will be “open” Masses at Holy Family parish. We are all in this together. Let us not be divided nor allow others to divide us along the lines of a medical status”, writes Palman.

Later in the article Palman says the parish will provide a booking system for Mass, have areas in the Church roped off, keep a 1m distance and celebrate 11 Masses throughout the week allowing, in total around 300 people to attend Mass at some point during the week and respect the number-restrictions of the traffic light system!

“The Sunday Mass obligation remains suspended, therefore, in these strange times, given the limitations, especially at traffic Light RED, we all have to accept that we may not be able to go to Mass every day, nor every week, nor every Sunday.

“These are trying times indeed as we all know well,” writes Palman.

In a similar move, Sunday, Wanganui parish priest, Fr Vaughan Leslie told parishioners that Parish Pastoral Advisory Team supports the “Trust” model of entry into parish Masses and gatherings.

“When you enter the church you are declaring you are vaccinated, but this will not be checked at the door.

“In light of this, people are asked to attend those events which their vaccination status allows them to, respecting the choices everyone has made.”

The parish is offering two types of Mass, a “Vaccine Pass Mass” operated on the “Trust” model and an “Open Mass” with much fewer numbers and physical distancing. Both events will respect Government number restrictions.

While the parish requests masks are to be worn at all gatherings, it is also looking to reintroduce some singing and music!

The Parish Pastoral Advisory team comprises Leslie (Chair), Mr Justin Harper, Mr Kieran Udy, Mrs Marianne Vine, Mr Michael Coleman, Mrs Joan O’Neill-Fong and ​Mrs Ruth Ockey.

The diocese of Palmerston North has advised Leslie not to proceed with the parish plans and that he will be liable for any Government fine.

On November 23, all the New Zealand Catholic bishops, acting together, published a pastoral letter, “Living, Caring, Worshipping and Ministering in a Covid-19 World”.

The pastoral letter, in line with the Government’s Traffic Light System, set out a range of responses to the current circumstances including providing Masses for fully vaccinated and non-fully vaccinated.



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