By Katie Ascough - 06 June, 2020
Yesterday the Taoiseach announced an acceleration of easing restrictions in relation to Covid-19. Among eased restrictions is the new date for public Masses to resume: Monday 29 June. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin says that “this will be a consolation to many people and preparations will be intensified to ensure this can be done safely.”
In a statement on the Archdiocese of Dublin website on Thursday 4 June, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin stated: “The Communications Office has this afternoon sent out some information about where it is possible to purchase what is needed regarding signage and hand hygiene. The Irish bishops will meet on Monday next and will issue clear guidelines for all dioceses. Each parish should be building up a core group that can monitor preparation. It might be an opportunity to ask young people to volunteer …
“The advice that is given in other countries is: be ready by the date; if you are not fully ready, wait until you are ready; if it is not possible to apply the guidelines, remain closed. It may not be possible for all churches to open and provide the supervision needed. Initially, many people will be fearful of attending indoor gatherings.
“Watching televised Masses from other European countries in these days, I realise that Mass with social distancing can be a rather bleak experience, not the joyful celebration that we might desire. But it is an important first stage,” the Archbishop of Dublin stated.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland, also welcomed the reopening of churches, saying: “Following [yesterday]’s announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the public health restrictions due to Covid-19 will be eased on 29 June to allow ‘places of worship to resume services again, with precautions’, I welcome this news and like other priests in Ireland I am greatly looking forward to celebrating public Mass and the sacraments soon with our congregations.
“I wish to commend dioceses and parishes for undertaking preparations to facilitate the safe return of the faithful to public worship in a measured way, and for their reaching out to parishioners in very difficult circumstances during the lockdown which included the broadcasting of Mass and other prayer opportunities by webcam.
“Next week, the bishops of Ireland will meet for the first time over video-call for our Summer General Meeting. We will finalise our framework document for the return to Mass and the sacraments which will offer best practice to parishes as we begin to fully reopen parish life again.
“It is my fervent hope and prayer that parishes in Northern Ireland will also soon be able to gather for public worship in the same way as parishes on the rest of the island.”