From a statement made via Zoom by Father Tim Hazelwood, a spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests, which is based in Ireland, during the organization’s annual meeting last October.
When churches closed, all that we were used to doing stopped. To function, a lot of guys went online. I don’t like going online. Even looking at a screen is totally unnatural, looking at a phone saying Mass. The whole idea of Communion, contact, meeting people—all my life that is the way it has been. I must say I find this shift online appalling. I don’t like it. I didn’t do it at the beginning, but now I am. For a lot of priests, we’ve been forced into doing it to please people. I know people are happy we’re doing it. The local man is saying Mass, and that’s what people like to see. But there’s another element that has been destructive, and that’s social media, the comments that are being passed about. The reality is that none of us are performers. A lot of lads are very self-conscious. We are bald, old-looking, and don’t speak very well. And there is a group that I would call the Mass hoppers who go from Mass to Mass and pass comments. A lot of the lads have been very hurt by them. Then you have this thing about how many followers you have. And all that judgment stuff—you can intellectualize it away, but it hits at your gut, at your heart. Some of the lads have stopped going on because they couldn’t take it. At the sacrament level, it hasn’t been a positive experience.