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Bishop appeals to people to bring Covid rate down

By Sarah Mac Donald - 28 September, 2020

Bishop Alan McGuckian says people must work with the public authorities to bring Covid reproduction rate back down again because "people’s health and lives are at stake”.

Bishop Alan McGuckian of Raphoe

Bishop Alan McGuckian of Raphoe, whose diocese covers Donegal, has said people in the county “have been shocked by the very significant rise in the [Covid] reproduction rate” in recent days.

Speaking to the CatholicIreland.net, Bishop McGuckian appealed to people in Donegal to commit themselves to working “strongly with the public authorities to bring this right back down again, because people’s health and lives are at stake”.

Asked about comments by Dr Anthony Breslin, director of public medicine HSE North West, which were reported in Friday’s Irish Independent, in which the health official warned that a surge in virus cases was linked to Communion and Confirmation parties, Dr McGuckian said, “As of midnight [on Friday] there will be no Communions or Confirmations in Donegal. There will be no public masses or services in our churches – the only exception being 25 people allowed to attend a funeral or a wedding.”

Co Donegal moved to Level 3 of the Government’s five-level scale of Covid-19 restrictions on Friday night. Communions and Confirmations were taking place in parishes in Donegal up to Friday itself.

Bishop McGuckian appealed to those children whose sacrament has been postponed due to the Covid-19 restrictions, “Be patient!”

“Children understandably look forward to special days in their lives and they can’t wait for them to come. I think we have to encourage them to know that their Communion or their Confirmation is something for the rest of their lives and we need to also encourage them to be patient. The day will come and it will be a great day when it comes,” Dr McGuckian said.

The Bishop was also asked if any churches in his diocese had held liturgies for Communions for up to 200 people in two or three pods of 50 but said he did not think any such largescale gatherings had taken place, even if it was “within the guidelines”.

Meanwhile, Fr John Joe Gannon, parish priest of Elphin in Co Roscommon, has said he feels “very sorry” for the children in his parish who have had their Communion postponed for a second time on the advice of the HSE over Covid-19 health concerns.

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