My application to Archbishop Clifford, my local bishop, for permission to sell Mass cards is still on hold due to an ongoing court case.
If I were to sell a Mass card without the permission of a Catholic bishop I could find myself serving ten years in prison and/or a fine of €300,000.
This punishment is a great deal more severe than that reserved for even the most ruthless criminals.
The draconian law does, however, serve to protect a monopoly worth countless millions to the Catholic Church.
The law also discards the principle of innocent until proved guilty as outlined in Article 48 (1) of the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It only recently dawned on me that this universal right has probably been discarded for the purpose of protecting bishops and the institution of the Catholic Church in general.
Section 99 (2) of the Charities Act, 2009 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.
This, I believe, is specifically designed to avoid the embarrassing spectacle of a Catholic bishop having to give evidence before a judge in a public court.
Or am I just becoming paranoid in my old age?