From Iceland — Catholic Church Breaks Gathering Ban...Again

Catholic Church Breaks Gathering Ban…Again

Published January 4, 2021

Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons/Jón Grétarsson

A mass at the Catholic Church, Landakotskirkja, in downtown Reykjavík was stopped by the police on Sunday for violating the gathering ban, Fréttablaðið reports. When the police came they found that 51 guests were attending the church but the gathering limits for churches in Iceland is 10 unless in funerals, where it’s 50 people.

This is the second time this happened, as the Icelandic police stopped a mass on Christmas Day in the same church where well over one hundred people were attending mass. Many guests didn’t have masks on, the police only found one bottle of sanitiser in the church, and there was no possibility to keep a 2-meter distance. The police said that they had a chat about the importance of the gathering ban and the rules in that relationship with the priest after the mass, which was over when the police arrived after a call because of the violation.

Jakob Rolland, chancellor of the Catholic Church in Iceland, said after the first incident that the rules were unfair, and in some ways inconsistent, and mentioned rules about shops where more people can be together under very strict conditions and that 2-meter distance can be ensured. Jakob also said that it was the priest’s responsibility to ensure that rules were followed.

But in an interview with the substitute of the bishop of the Catholic church, Patrick Breen, on Sunday in Fréttablaðið, he said that there was enough space to have 50 people in the church at the same time and ensure everyone’s safety. He also said that the Catholic church would not hold mass if there were only 10 people in the church and added that the church would not ban people from coming to masses. But he also stated that the issue hadn’t been discussed fully by the Bishop.

The Catholic church is the second biggest congregation in Iceland, but still only has 4% of the population registered in the church, or around 14,000 members, most of whom are immigrants. For some reason, the national church of Iceland hasn’t had the same problems as the Catholic Church and seems to have no problem enforcing the same rules without incidents.

The police are investigating the incident at the Catholic Church and can fine the church from 50,000 to 250,000 ISK.

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