Reopen Churches for Public Worship
On 19 February the four Catholic Archbishops had a meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin to continue the dialogue about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives of people in our Church.
Despite assurances from the Taoiseach last month that the concerns expressed by the Archbishops would be given serious consideration, we note with disappointment that none of the issues raised has been responded to.
We therefore make an urgent appeal that the following matters be addressed:
That the easing of restrictions from Level 5 should include the restoration of public worship, albeit in a safe and limited way. For people of faith not to be free to worship until regulations return to Level 2, whilst many other restrictions are eased, is seen as particularly distressing and unjust.
That the number of mourners permitted at funeral services be increased, with immediate effect, noting that in Northern Ireland this number has not been reduced below 25. The current restriction places immense burdens on grieving families, compounding the pain of their loss.
We strongly believe that allowing these measures would contribute greatly to giving a sense of hope and consolation to many in our Church – in line with the central message of Easter. These measures would be a substantial support to the wellbeing of individuals and parish communities, and ultimately serve the Common Good of all.
We encourage Catholics to make their views on these issues known to their own TDs and local representatives.
Archbishop Dermot Farrell
St Patricks day
Extract from Homliy:
It is clear that restrictions on social interaction are designed to limit the risk of virus transmission.
NPHET guidelines have made it clear that it is the volume of interactions, as much as their type, which matters for public safety. There are choices to be made between different types of social interaction as restrictions are unwound.
From the perspective of the State, the right to public worship is protected by the Constitution of Ireland (Article 44). However, the number who are allowed to worship cannot be randomly determined as if were some mathematical formula.
This is about people: the protection of peoples health, and the fostering of peoples wellbeing. While a balance must be struck, easing restrictions on worship has a better founded statutory claim than other activities which may be pressed by powerful commercial interests. Worship has a clear human priority over other activities that do not possess that priority of themselves.
In particular, the restriction on attendance at funerals to 10 people is harsh and unfair. Close family members are frequently denied the right to be present in Church at the funeral of their loved ones: at times, people who have been with the deceased for years.
This is tolerable only in the most extreme circumstances, and for the shortest possible period.
As a matter of human dignity and fairness but even more so as matter of wellbeing and the restoration of normality, I call on the public authorities to give assurance that the legitimate desire of people to gather responsibly and within reasonable guidelines to exercise their constitutional right to worship will be prioritised in the easing of restrictions.
We continue to keep in prayer all who are suffering in this time of Covid, and all who contribute so much to their care.