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Orange Order members should be allowed to attend Mass: Assistant Grand Master Mervyn Gibson

By Claire Williamson

The Orange Order's Mervyn Gibson has said he would like to see its members allowed to attend Catholic Mass without the threat of discipline.

In its rules, the Orange Order does not allow members to attend or take part in a Roman Catholic Mass.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback on Wednesday senior Orangeman Mervyn Gibson said he, personally, would like to see the rule go one day.

The Assistant Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said: "That's a rule the order has. We are a democratic organisation

"If someone feels they want to change that rule, it can be proposed and it will be debated and then voted upon. At the moment the rule is still there. Anybody who joins the institution knows that.

"Some believe it should go and some believe it should stay - but it's there."

When asked his personal opinion he said he would like to see the rule go.

"I've attended homes and wakes of Roman Catholics and republicans indeed. I've prayed for the family and with them," Rev. Gibson added.

"That rule harks back to a day when people said 'don't go into the chapel' and I accept that but equally it can be changed. And it may be changed."

He added: "I've said that it harks back to a different era in many ways. The opportunity is there for it to be changed.

Rev Gibson said he was "strong enough" in his faith to attend other services.

He said: "But that's the rules I accept the rule."

The Orange man who is also the Order's chaplain said it was not an "ambition" of his to change the rule at present.

"There's not enough hours in the day to do it now. It's significant for some people," he said.

"Walking through the doors of the church doesn't mean you will sympathise any more."

In 2011 UUP leader Tom Elliott and the then Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy faced disciplinary proceedings for attending the funeral of a murdered Catholic PSNI officer.

Orange Order summons UUP pair over funeral for Catholic PSNI officer 

They were the subject of a complaint made by a Sandy Row lodge after attending Constable Ronan Kerr’s funeral but were later cleared.

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