The Charities Act 2009 was recently signed into law by President Mary McAleese.
Section 99 of this act makes it a criminal offence to sell a Mass card without the permission of a Catholic bishop.
This law is repugnant to the enlightened democratic principles of most modern states. I believe this law was introduced for one principal reason – to re-establish the lucrative Mass card monopoly to the Catholic Church.
I have written to Mary McAleese challenging her on this matter.
Dear Mrs. President,
You recently signed into law the Charities Act 2009 a section of which makes it a criminal offence to sell a Mass card without the permission of a Catholic bishop.
Part 7, Section 99 (2) of the Act states: “In proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved on the balance of probabilities, that the sale of the Mass card to which the alleged offence relates was not done pursuant to an arrangement with a recognised person.”
Clearly, this law is in direct contradiction of Article 48 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights which states: “Everyone who has been charged shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.” The principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty is, I believe, one of the fundamental legal pillars of most modern democratic states.
I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions.
Do you agree with the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’?
Do you agree with the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ section of the Charities Act 2009?
The relevant section.
Section 99. (Charities Act, 2009)
(1) A person who sells a Mass card other than pursuant to an arrangement with a recognised person shall be guilty of an offence.
(2) In proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved on the balance of probabilities, that the sale of the Mass card to which the alleged offence relates was not done pursuant to an arrangement with a recognised person.
(3) In this section—
“Church” means the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church;
“Mass card” means a card or other printed material that indicates, or purports to indicate, that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass howsoever described will be offered for—
(a) the intentions specified therein, or
(b) such intentions as will include the intentions specified therein;
“priest” means a priest ordained according to the rites of the Church;
“recognised person” means—
(a) a bishop of the Church, or
(b) a provincial of an order of priests established under the authority of, and recognised by, the Church;
“sell” includes, in relation to a Mass card, offer or expose the card for sale or invite the making by a person of an offer to purchase the card.