EACH of the country's 26 dioceses must decide how to apply guidelines on the playing of secular music at weddings and funerals, the Catholic Church said last night.
The church was commenting after a Co Donegal priest banned all secular music during religious ceremonies from his church and warned he would expel musicians and photographers who did not liaise with him prior to events.
A church spokesman said the National Secretariat for Liturgy was a dedicated office and issued guidelines on church music and it was up to each diocese to be more specific in how it applied them.
"Churches are sacred places of worship and their dignity and sacredness have to be respected," he said.
In its guidelines on music for funeral rites, the secretariat says that secular music should not replace the sacred music which was part of the rite.
"Other songs are often suggested for a funeral Mass which would be more suited to the wake in the home when favourite songs can be sung in the right setting," it says.
The latest debate over the use of non-religious music at church ceremonies comes after parish priest Fr John Walsh of Buncrana, which is in the Derry diocese, banned all secular music during religious ceremonies and said he won't tolerate wedding photographers and videographers "standing in front" of him as he officiates.
"Photographers and video recordists can be a bit enthusiastic about where they position themselves, but I don't want them standing in front of me when I'm marrying people," he said. Fr Walsh said it was "negotiable" whether or not he would allow non-religious music be played after a ceremony concludes and a wedding couple, or funeral cortege, is leaving the chapel.
He said photographers and videographers had to prearrange with him where they could stand.
"I'll be sending for them anyway if I see them in the gallery before a wedding and they haven't come to see me first.
Musicians who don't co-operate will not be welcome to perform in Buncrana (churches) anymore so, it's up to them to liaise with me," he added.
The Irish Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) said that in general, members of the public were told to have only hymns sung at Mass.
"The only exception would be at the very end of the Mass that a secular song might be allowed," said IAFD president Graham Gleasure.
"In most cases it's the priest who has the last say.
"In general it's supposed to be hymns and we as funeral directors have to respect that," he said.