By Cian Molloy - 16 May, 2020
Three of Ireland’s archbishops met online with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Thursday to discuss how places of worship may be reopened over the course of the summer, but as
yet no firm decisions are made.
Afterwards, the Taoiseach described the virtual meeting with Archbishops Eamon Martin of Armagh, Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and Kieran O’Reilly of Tuam as a “good initial discussion”.
Archbishop Eamon Martin said there had been a good exchange of views with An Taoiseach and with Miriam Dollard, a principal officer in the Department of An Taoiseach, who can be seen in the top right hand corner of the video screen being viewed by Mr Varadkar in the photograph accompanying this article.
The three church leaders shared information on the work that is being done at all levels to develop a national Church plan for the safe reopening of places of worship, including open air venues. The hierarchy’s representatives emphasised that it will play its part in applying public health measures to ensure the health and safety of congregations.
“Health in body, mind and spirit are interlinked,” said the Archbishop of Armagh, but he added: “The protection of life and the common good are guiding principles as we continue parish, diocesan and national planning for safe and responsible return to Mass and sacraments.”
Restrictions on public worship and liturgies commenced in Ireland on Wednesday 11 March, when the Irish Bishops’ Conference issued guidance calling for measures including the draining of holy water fonts and ending the shaking of hands when making the sign of peace, but with Masses continuing as normal. A day later, following the publication of new norms by the Irish government, the bishops dispensed with the obligation to attend Mass and in the following weeks, diocese by diocese, the public celebration of Mass was suspended accross the country.