Archbishop Thomas Morris’ Pastoral Letter on Dancing
The Most Rev. Thomas Morris, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, issued the following pastoral letter on dancing on the 2nd September, 1960, and requested the organisers and promoters of dances in his archdiocese to observe the stated principles:
As my office imposes on me a special solicitude for the moral welfare of my flock, I consider that action is necessary with a view to introducing the following principles for the regulation of public dancing in the Archdiocese:
(a) that all dances should end not later than 1 a.m. Summer Time, while Summer Time is in force, and not later than 12 midnight during the remainder of the year;
(b) that no dances be held on Saturday nights, eves of holydays, Christmas night, or during Lent (except on St. Patrick’s night for Irish traditional dancing or where dancing has already been customary on that night).
Concern for the moral welfare of those who dance will surely be accepted as no more an interference with legitimate amusement than concern for their health or physical safety. Two factors have in recent years contributed to the multiplication of dancing facilities: the commercialisation of dancing, that is, the promotion of dancing as a business or for raising funds, and the provision of drink at dances.
Those who engage in such business have need of a high sense of responsibility if they are to escape the accusation of wishing to exploit young people. Full credit is due to those who have shown concern for the maintenance of order and decent conduct at dances, but even their best efforts must be limited to the time when patrons are on, or in the vicinity of, their premises.
The frequency of dances timed to end at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. is a cause of serious uneasiness. Indeed, the lines of advertisements which read ‘dancing 9-2’ or ‘dancing 10-3’ are almost invariably misleading, since, in fact, dancing does not commence for an hour or perhaps two hours after the times advertised in these cases.
The competitive conditions of the entertainment business add to this uneasiness, and the matter is too serious to be submitted to any law of supply and demand.
It has been customary in this archdiocese to refrain from organising dances on Saturday nights, or on the other occasions mentioned above; departures from this custom are repugnant to the Christian outlook of our people, and should not be accepted.
Accordingly, insofar as premises within the archdiocese are concerned, I request that the above principles be observed by promoters of dances, and by applicants for licences under the Dance Halls Act.
I request also those who are otherwise involved in the business aspects of dancing, such as transport, supply of refreshment and catering, to refrain from co-operating in the violation of these principles.
Finally, I urge the faithful not to patronise, and not to allow their children or others for whom they are responsible, to patronise dances which contravene these principles.
Archbishop of Cashel and Emly.