By Sarah Mac Donald - 24 February, 2015
Priests and parishes in the archdiocese of Dublin have been instructed to ensure their churches are not used for the dissemination of campaign literature from any source ahead of the forthcoming referenda or election campaigns.
In a guidance issued by the communications office in the diocese, parish priests and rectors of churches are also reminded that they are responsible for verifying the appropriateness of any publications which are on sale or distributed gratis in their churches or church grounds.
The notice states that churches, because of their public accessibility, “are prone to the placement of political and campaigning literature”.
In the light of the forthcoming referenda in May on same sex marriage and reducing the age of candidates allowed to contest the presidential election from 35 to 21, the archdiocese underlines that Churches are not appropriate places for the distribution of literature of a purely electoral or campaigning nature, during referendums or election campaigns.
Parishes are told that every effort should be made to ensure that their churches are not used for the dissemination of campaign literature from any source.
The guidelines also underline that campaign material should in no circumstance be distributed through schools.
Elsewhere, the notice reminds parish publications that newsletters distributed in the name of a parish community should not be used as a vehicle for the expression of personal views.
Rather, the focus of any parish newsletter or web and social media should be to circulate information on liturgies, parish events, parish contacts, death notices, and charitable events concerning the local parish community and the wider archdiocese, the guidance states.
The parish priest or administrator, or a nominee of his choice, “should exercise editorial control over the parish newsletter and other media platforms” and the diocesan communications office “is available to advise further” when there is doubt about the nature of an article or post submitted for publication in print or online.