Orangemen and Mass

Dear Sir,

May I be permitted to correct the statement by both Barry McCaffery and Clair Simpson (Irish News 15/8/08) that the Orange Institution was being challenged to change a “200-year-old ban”, which prevents Orangemen attending Catholic churches? The ban is in fact not as old as that.

This addition to the ‘Qualifications of an Orangeman’ was adopted by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland on 3rd June 1885:

“. . . and scrupulously avoid countenancing (by his presence or otherwise) any act or ceremony of Popish Worship;”

This in fact makes it a 123-year-old ban – some 90 years following the establishment of the Orange Institution. The Institution therefore survived and flourished for almost half its life without such a ban.

Your readers might be interested to know that this ban is kept in the breach. One example will suffice. On 7th February 2003 a number of members of the Orange Institution, from Lodges within Glenavy District, attended a Roman Catholic Sacramental Wedding Ceremony.  No one has objected.

Your readers might also be interested to know that the Orange Institution in both Canada and America has long abandoned this rule.

Yours etc.

Brian Kennaway (Rev)

Author: The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed.

This letter appeared in the Irish News in August 2008