Cleric criticises Bishop of Waterford over alleged Covid breach

Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan has been criticised after a screenshot was circulated of the bishop celebrating Mass without wearing a mask in close proximity with a number of other priests.

MON, 05 APR, Irish Examiner. Eoghan Dalton

The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore has been strongly criticised by a cleric over the fallout from an alleged breach of Covid guidelines.

Fr Tim Hazlewood, a member of the Association of Catholic Priests, said bishops in particular need to give leadership during the pandemic, especially when it comes to observing guidelines and restrictions.

Fr Hazlewood was commenting after a screenshot was circulated of Bishop Cullinan celebrating Mass without wearing a mask in close proximity with a number of other priests.

“When you’re in a position of power, you’re seen as a person of influence and every single thing we do is interpreted. There’s consequences as a leader in what you do,” said Fr Hazlewood, who is based in Killeagh in east Cork.

He said the leadership of the Catholic Church “still needs” to accept it no longer has a position of privilege. 

To me, it begs the question: does the Church still think it has privilege? Are we above the law? [In the past] privilege was used to control people and we could do what we want. That day is gone and the sooner we move on from it the better.”

It’s understood gardaí spoke with Bishop Cullinan in recent weeks after a complaint from a member of the public.

Screenshot of the Mass celebrated by Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Alphonsus Cullinan in close proximity to other priests. None were wearing masks.

Bishop Cullinan, who has repeatedly declined to address the matter, was seen in a screenshot from the Church online video of the mass flanked by priests without masks on a church altar in Tramore.

The Mass, held to mark a local seminarian’s admission to become a deacon, and which was streamed live, was led by Bishop Cullinan at the Holy Cross Church in Tramore on February 14.

The screenshot of the service circulated afterwards, showing Bishop Cullinan and the two priests at close quarters on the altar, along with another two nearby.

None of the five were wearing masks at that point in the Mass and it is not known how long the bishop and the two priests were on the altar at the same time.

According to guidance for religious services, published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, organisers need to “ensure social distancing of two metres is maintained . . . including by those leading or contributing to the performance of religious rites”, while “congregants should wear cloth face coverings or masks” during indoor ceremonies.

The guidance adds that the “religious leader should wear a cloth face covering or mask during the service” and can do without a mask “only if she/he is more than 2 metres from any participant”.

The Garda matter is now believed to be closed and no formal warning or charges will be issued against the bishop.

The office of the diocese did not respond to requests for comment over the past month and Bishop Cullinan said he was “too busy” to respond when contacted.

Catholics are ‘frustrated’

Bishop Cullinan spoke out against the level 5 ban on attendees at Mass last week, saying  Catholics are “frustrated” and “feel underrepresented and discriminated against”.

In the statement, issued in a general press release by the diocese, the bishop said  “priests and parish volunteers have been very diligent in ensuring that our churches are sanitised and safe” during the pandemic.

An Garda Siochána said when dealing with potential breaches of guidelines, they operate a “graduated policing response” to potential flouting of restrictions, whereby gardaí first engage and educate people on the measures ahead of stricter action.


Phonsie is always calling on others to act and live properly.

So, he needs to act and live properly too.

He did break Covid regulations.

He should acknowledge that and say he will not do it again.

But who is this Hazelwood crerp in Cloyne?

He is one of the leading “lights” in the ACP – Association of Catholic Priests.

They are a group of wanna be bishops and theologians who have gone no where in life and are going nowhere.

They are a blind priest’s trade union thinking priests can do no wrong.

Phonsie will not lose a minutes sleep over Timmy Hazelwood & Co.