FURTHER GUIDANCE ON CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
4 June 2020
Diocesan Retreat: The main Diocesan Retreat was to begin at Tulfarris Hotel on Sunday next 7th June. Father Brendan Purcell, who was to preach the Retreat, has prepared a short video talk on the subject he had chosen for the Retreat God’s love. My suggestion is that we place that talk and some introductory words and prayers of my own on the Diocesan Website on Sunday evening at 19.00, the time the Retreat would have opened. In that way, the entire Presbyterate can join in prayer at what has always been a very important event in diocesan life. I will send out more details in the next days.
Preparation for Reopening of places for Public Worship: There is a willingness on the part of public authorities to examine the possibility of bringing forward the opening of Churches for public worship into Phase 3 of the Roadmap, which would begin on 29 June.
Naturally, any decision would have to take place closer to that date and would have to take into consideration the overall situation of the virus at that time.
In any case, it is important that we progress the preparation of our Churches so that if possible we are fully ready towards the end of June.
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.
It is important that in this situation we should be careful to observe the current norms and show that we will be in a position to implement and respect norms should the timeline change. Jumping the queue can set everyone back.
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 is an important first stage.
Thursday 4 June 2020
FURTHER GUIDANCE REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
27 May 2020
- We remember Father Gerry Byrne who died suddenly yesterday after a lengthy illness. He was a remarkable witness as to how priestly ministry can be extraordinarily fruitful when our physical strengths are at weak. May the Lord reward him for his generous ministry.
- Reopening of Churches for Public Worship: As I mentioned yesterday, the Irish Bishops’ Conference will shortly issue a document that will itemise the specific preparations that each parish should be making for the upcoming reopening of our Churches for public worship. While recognising that each Church building and each community is different, there will be a General Framework for the entire Catholic Church in Ireland that will apply to every parish. The reopening of Churches for public worship is not simply about the ability to apply social distancing. Before being authorised to reopen for public worship, each parish will be obliged to draw up a detailed plan following a specific checklist. The current norms permit the celebration of funerals limited to 10 people. Otherwise, places of worship are to open only for periods of private prayers. This is diocesan policy.
The public health situation must rightly influence all our decisions. I repeat the words of Pope Francis at the moment in which Churches in Italy were reopened for public worship: “but please, let us proceed respecting the norms, the prescriptions we are given to safeguard the health of each individual and the people”.
- I must remind all parishes that disregard for the norms of public health regarding the opening of Churches for public worship is something that is unacceptable. It will only damage the efforts of all to move forward together patiently and with caution. People across the country are making great sacrifices in strictly observing current lockdown norms. No parish may go it alone and have Mass open to the public in violation of the public health norms. No parish can self-authorise a dispensation from or propose an individual interpretation of these norms.
- Trocaire: You will already have received detailed information on how funds collected in Trocaire Boxes can be transferred to Trocaire over the coming Pentecost period. I ask parishes to facilitate this process.
- Laudato Si: We have just marked the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si and the Pope has proposed a yearlong time of reflection and action on the Encyclical. I encourage you to read the book Theology and Ecology in Dialogue by Monsignor Dermot Lane, published by Messenger Books. It could well be used as animation in parish reflection and projects.
- New Deacons: The ordination of a further group of permanent deacons was planned for Wednesday next 3rd June, Feast of Saint Kevin. This unfortunately must be postponed until a later date. We should take the occasion to pray for our deacons and the important ministry they carry out in our parishes. In particular please remember in your prayers Deacon Don Devaney who is, thank God, making good progress in his recovery from illness.
- A Reflection for Pentecost: While we must make progress towards the challenge of reopening our Churches for public worship, we also have to prepare for life in a different religious culture after the Coronavirus emergency. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit who fosters unity and I have written the following Pentecost Reflection on how we renew a true sense of unity and community as we move from a situation dominated by the virtual back to the challenge of reality. I ask you to remember me in your prayers. Being cocooned – and respecting that situation – has not been easy for me, as is the case with so many people. I remember daily in my prayers all our clergy and lay faithful who are showing remarkable creativity in keeping pastoral life active and flourishing in a situation few of us could have imagined just weeks ago.
A PENTECOST REFLECTION OF
ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN
After his resurrection, at the moment in which he returned to his Father, Jesus pours out the Spirit upon his disciples and makes them sharers in his own mission. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the disciples went out on the first Pentecost Sunday and began to preach the Good News to peoples from all parts of the then known world.
The Spirit enabled the apostles to speak a message which was understandable to all. The Spirit enabled them to teach a message that was relevant and understandable to the lives and the concrete realities of peoples of different backgrounds. The message of Jesus is a universal one, not just in the sense that it has spread right around the world, but above all in that no one, no people is excluded from that message or from the community that Jesus’ message constructs.
The disciples of Jesus are brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. You cannot be a solo-Christian. Christianity is a faith that demands the building of community. The Church is called, according to the opening words of the Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Church, to be “a sign and a sacrament of the unity in Jesus Christ of all humankind”. Wherever Church exists, it must be a sign for all to see of unity and community.
We all need community. Community is not just for the few who are naturally gregarious. We need something more than a vague good neighbourliness based on living next-door to each other without enmity or undue friction. We all need real community.
In our times – for the first time in human history – more than half of the world’s population lives in an urban setting. Modernity fosters urban life. The Archdiocese of Dublin is predominantly an urban diocese, though partly rural. Building urban community is a major challenge. Where the building of urban community fails, the results come in social breakdown, violence and alienation. Where urban community is built up, we have that extraordinary sense of care and solidarity which for generations marked the best of our inner cities. In the current crisis, we have seen great examples of spontaneous community support.
As we return towards a normalisation of Church life, we have to create focal points of community within our huge urban conglomerations. For too long we have given the name “development” to a process of simply building houses on the fringes of our cities, without any of the infrastructures to support community. Society needs community.
We live in a world in which for many individualism, self-expression and self-sufficiency become the driving force of human activity. Growth, progress, economic interest and profit can often be pursued for their own sake, without any regard for the consequences for other areas of life, whether on the poor and excluded, or the environment, or on the global good of inclusion.
The freedom given by the Spirit is not an individualistic freedom. The freedom that comes from the Spirit unites. The freedom that comes from the Spirit overcomes division. We all need community, but we must all construct community.
The “Creator Spirit” is the one who helps us steer the path of human progress in another direction, within a framework respectful of God’s design for his creation, forcing us to transform our individualism and self-centeredness into a response of generosity. Society needs community. Society needs a Church which witnesses to community and care.
FURTHER GUIDELINES IN CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
25th May 2020
Getting ready for the opening of Churches for Public Worship: All of us are struck and full of admiration at the way parishes have been working creatively in reaching out during this complex lockdown situation.
On the other hand, I realise how we need to move beyond the virtual. Jesus preached the Good News and he also gathered together a community of disciples. The readings in the post-Easter daily Masses were all about how the early faith communities were built up, even in the face of hostility and rejection.
There is a clear recognition by believers and indeed many non-believers alike that in the process of healing and grieving, as we journey through these difficult times, faith and spiritual experience constitute an important contribution in sustaining people’s personal and mental wellbeing.
As Christians, we suffer through not being able to celebrate our faith through public worship. As one Bishop noted in these days, “The Sacraments we miss are actions of the Christian community. We celebrate them together in Church”.
There is a sense in which this void is especially experienced by priests. Priests share in the anxiousness of all believers and in addition they find themselves unable to carry out to the full what is most essential in their calling. Priests are called to break the bread of the Scriptures and of the Body and Blood of the Lord in nourishing and being nourished by the Christian communities entrusted to their ministry. As Archbishop, I experience that void in a deep way.
There is a longing by believers to be able to return to public worship and towards building up Christian communities.
Over the past weeks, all over Ireland, parishes have begun working on plans to be ready to open their Churches as soon as it is safe to do so. I thank those Dublin parishes who responded to my request for developing a plan to be ready to open Churches at the appropriate moment, while respecting social distancing and public hygiene.
The Irish Bishops pooled suggestions from each diocese and drew up a first Draft Framework document. The Standing Committee of the Conference examined this Framework today and has now moved towards producing a shorter and sharper document, with checklists to enable parishes to monitor where they are on the path forward. That should be available in the next days.
From the outset, the Government Roadmap has noted that it will be constantly evaluating progress in reopening society and it is important that we as Church are ready to respond to any change in the current proposed timescale.
We have to examine how our desires can be measured within the overall public health situation. It is not that we place public health measures above our spiritual mission. I remind parishes of the words of Pope Francis when he greeted of the opening of Churches in Italy. “but please, let us proceed respecting the norms, the prescriptions we are given to safeguard the health of each individual and the people”.
I also draw attention to the comments of the Archbishop of Boston as Churches in his diocese were preparing to “proceed patiently and with caution” towards reopening for public worship, “No matter what the start date, no parish should have Mass unless they can do it safely”.
In the meantime, once again I thank all those who have been sustaining and supporting the ministry of the Church in these times. You have been making a unique contribution to building up the Church and the Lord will surely work to ensure that your efforts bear fruit in ways that we do not yet imagine.
Monday 25 May 2020
Further update on Coronavirus situation
Monday 11 May 2020
CHECK LIST FOR RE-OPENING CHURCHES FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP
Some first reflections in the light of other European countries by
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
The reopening of Churches for public worship will require detailed preparation. Each Church building and its surroundings is different and each Church should be preparing its own clear plan in order to be ready for opening. On the other hand, the fact that the reopening of Churches will involve the movement of a very large number of people right across the State, perhaps on the same day, means that common public health considerations will have to be respected by all Churches.
The reopening of Churches in a number of European countries has in fact been accompanied by strict norms of public health. The Irish public health authorities will be influenced by the measures taken in other European countries. At first sight some of these measures may seem drastic, but they have been introduced in a number of countries.
Social distancing is not simply a question of marking out places on Church benches. Questions arise also about entrance and exiting, about those with physical disabilities, of access to Holy Communion, of toilet and washing facilities, of cleansing or sanitizing of Churches.
This checklist is not a definitive work plan, but rather a list of the questions that each parish should be asking at this stage as it prepares its own plan and reflects on the personnel needs required to put that plan into action.
Safe distancing: The seating in each Church should be marked, giving an indication of where people may sit in order to guarantee safe distancing. Where necessary indications should be placed on floors. Each parish should identify the nature of these indications and where the appropriate material can be sourced.
Church capacity: Once a seating plan has been decided, each parish should clearly define the maximum number of people that the Church can hold. The Swiss authorities suggest that this will be about one third of the normal attendance. When this number has been identified, the parish must consider how to deal with possible larger attendance. This could mean suggesting that numbers be systematically spread around the weekdays or that extra Masses be scheduled for Sunday.
Entry and exit into Church. The parish plan must address how people can enter and leave the Church in a precise order, maintaining social distance and avoiding crowding, especially outside before and after Mass. This might require, as with Supermarkets, indications of safe distance being marked outside the Church entrance.
All European countries suggest separate entrance and exit doors. They also request that hand sanitizers be place at all entrances. Hand sanitizing at entrances will take time to use and will delay entry. Parishes must examine how such hand sanitizer can be sourced. The Italian norms foresee separate entry and space for the physically disabled. In France and Italy it is required that all the faithful wear a facemasks over mouth and nose for the duration of the liturgy. Social distancing applies to ancillary rooms such as sacristies, which in some Churches may be quite confined. Doors should be left open to facilitate a smooth entrance flow and to avoid contact with door handles.
For Holy Communion it would seem that the preferred option is for communion to be brought to people rather than by a procession to the altar. The minister of Holy Communion should wear a facemask and disposable gloves. Holy Communion should be distributed in the hand only and the Minister of Holy Communion should not touch the hand of the communicant.
Toilet facilities: most Churches have very limited toilet facilities. People who might use a toilet would be required by the general norms to wash their hands in warm soapy water. This might be very difficult and it might be necessary to close all toilets.
Collections: all the European measures prohibit the passing of collection baskets and suggest that suitable containers be placed at entrances or another place deemed appropriate. Care would be required to avoid theft from such places. Collectors and counters would have to observe social distancing. Misalettes and hymn sheets should not be made available in Church buildings. In Germany and Italy, it is noted that there should be no choir.
Cleansing of Churches: all countries note that places of worship, including sacristies, are to be regularly sanitized after each celebration by cleaning with suitable antiseptic cleaning material. At the end of each celebration sacred Vessels, cruets and other objects, including microphones are to be carefully disinfected. Holy Water fonts are to remain empty.
Exclusions: all the various countries impose a ban on entry to liturgies by those with flu/respiratory symptoms, high body temperature, or anyone who has been in contact with Covid-19 people for a particular period. Those who are obliged to remain in their residences may not be admitted to Churches.
Notices: some countries require that official notices be placed at Church entrances that specify the maximum numbers that can be present at a liturgy, the norms regarding social distancing and the categories not permitted to attend.
Monday 11th May 2020
FURTHER UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
Friday 8th May 2020
Deceased priests: We remember in our prayers the following deceased priest whose deaths occurred over the past weeks: Father Philip O’ Driscoll, Father Gabriel O’ Dowd and Father Pat Guckian. I am also aware that a number of Religious Congregations have lost priests, some of whom ministered for a time in the Archdiocese of Dublin. May they Rest in Peace.
Opening of Churches: At the moment the Government Road-map indicates that the opening of Churches and places of worship is foreseen for mid-July. Like all other measures, it is possible that if the public health situation permits it, these dates could be brought forward. It is important for the Church to give the message that we are enthusiastically preparing for the opening of all our Churches and the resumption of public Masses.
Many Churches remain open for private prayer where strict precautions are in operation. Churches are also open for funerals, baptisms and weddings in very limited numbers. Attendance at funerals is currently strictly limited to 10 people.
I suggest that Churches begin already preparing a detailed plan for full re-opening of Churches. Markers could be laid on benches and on floors to facilitate social distancing, remembering that the two metre distance applies not just to those beside you, but also those in front and behind you. A written plan should be developed regarding hand hygiene for larger numbers and for adequate cleansing of Churches.
Trócaire: As you are well aware, this year it has been difficult for Trócaire boxes to be collected. At a time when contributions are down, it is important for Trócaire to access expeditiously monies already collected. In the next few days Trócaire will be contacting parishes with the suggestion that on the weekend of Pentecost, families should be helped to transfer the contents of Trócaire boxes by post, telephone or electronic transfer. Trócaire will provide further information in these coming days, alongside sample announcements that could be made in newsletters and at Masses.
Visits of the bereaved to cemeteries: Glasnevin cemetery is now open to the public via the pedestrian entrance only at the junction with Slaney Road from 1.30 pm – 3.30 pm Monday through to Saturday to facilitate grave visits only. Pedestrian access to the St. Paul’s section will also be available during these times. Pedestrian access is also available in Dardistown, Newlands, and Palmerstown cemeteries for grave visits only. To comply with Government guidelines, it is requested that only people who live within a 5 km radius of Glasnevin Trust cemeteries visit graves during this phase of restrictions.
Friday 8 May 2020
FURTHER UPDATE REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
Thursday 30 April 2020
1.The Month of May: Pope Francis has asked that, during the Month of May, the Rosary should be recited in the Church right across the World in the context of the coronavirus and its effects. Pope Francis also composed two special prayers for the occasion. The second of these prayers, which I add below, could also be useful in the preparation of Prayers of the Faithful during the month of May. Parishes might consider, in so far as possible, transmitting the recitation of the Rosary on line each evening, at a convenient time and to conclude with one of the Pope’s Prayers.
Parishes might, during the month of May, place a Marian image visibly in a public place outside the Church or suitably decorate an existing Statue or Shrine to invite passers-by to pray and to remember the meaning of Marian devotion in May.
“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother and seek refuge under your protection.
Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.
Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity, that they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.
Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
Beloved Mother, help us realise that we are all members of one great family and to recognise the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.
2.The Diocesan Retreat: The Diocesan Retreat that was planned to be held at the Tulfarris Hotel in late June has had to be cancelled. It might be possible to arrange a Diocesan wide, on- line message and prayer on the first evening on which we would have gathered in which all priests could share.
3.Cemetery Masses: In many parishes there is a tradition of holding Cemetery Masses and Cemetery Sundays during the months of June and July. Often, these are very large gatherings accompanied by community and family events. With the possible exception of relatively small events, there would be great difficulty in ensuring social distancing in transport to and from the cemetery, with parking, with entering and leaving the cemetery and in monitoring possible large gatherings around particular family graves. I appreciate that for many families a Cemetery Mass would be a first opportunity to gather, especially if funerals have had to take place in the current restrictions. However, I would strongly suggest that all Cemetery Masses should be postponed until later in the summer, when circumstances will permit them to be truly family and community celebrations. In the meantime it is important that, where possible, people have ordered access to Cemeteries to be able to remember and pray for their deceased loved ones.
Thursday 30 April 2020
FURTHER UPDATE ON COVID-19 SITUATION
25th April 2020
- We come to a further celebration of the Lord’s Day with very limited possibility of the celebration of public Masses. I wish to thank all our parishes that have been making access to Mass possible on-line. It means so much to many people in today’s situation.
- In our prayers this Sunday, we should remember those who have died during this pandemic and those who mourn. I was struck by the words used by Pope Francis in a Letter which he published today for the upcoming Month of May. In particular the Pope prayed to Mary: “Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment”.
- We can also unite ourselves with the “virtual” Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock which is being held on Sunday afternoon. Again I recall words of Pope Francis “contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial”.
- Finally I would encourage parishes to remind people of the importance of observing the current public health norms, no matter how restrictive they may appear. We have great admiration for our public health workers in the front line. We can easily forget that the long term success of their dedication depends on how we scrupulously respect measures to reduce social contact and thus reduce the danger of community infection. Failure to respect these norms is irresponsible and could quickly set back the extraordinary work of our front line workers.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Saturday April 25th
FURTHER UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
Friday 24th April 2020
- Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock. We had planned to hold the Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Knock on Saturday next, unfortunately, we cannot do so due to the government restrictions caused by COVID-19. Instead, Deacon Gerard Reilly and his team, with the cooperation of our friends at Knock Shrine, have arranged a virtual pilgrimage on Sunday April 26th commencing at 2.30pm with the Rosary. Mass will be celebrated at 3.00pm. I encourage as many people as possible to join the virtual pilgrimage in prayer, especially those parishes that were due to take part in the pilgrimage. The virtual pilgrimage will give us an opportunity to pray through the intercession of Our Lady of Knock for all our intentions. Please God, we will be in a position to visit Knock again in person in the not too distant future.
Join the pilgrimage from: https://www.knockshrine.ie/
Times are as follows:
3.00pm: Pilgrimage Mass celebrated by the Rector of Knock Shrine, Father Richard Gibbons
4.00pm: Virtual visit to the Apparition Chapel
- First Communion and Confirmation: I am being asked about Confirmation and First Holy Communion ceremonies. We can only begin to speak of a time frame for these Sacraments, when schools have been fully reopened and when it is possible once again to hold large indoor gatherings of people, especially children. This will not be the case for some months ahead. There is therefore absolutely no way that Confirmations or First Holy Communion can be celebrated, as some would suggest, during the months of May and June. I realise that this is very difficult for the pupils and their families. I will be in contact with the Priests, Parish teams and schools at a later date when there is further clarity around the situation. It might be a good idea for parishes to find ways of keeping direct contact with candidates for the Sacraments, such for example as the letter which follows sent out by the Parish of River Valley,
Dear Boys and Girls, Parents and Teachers,
We are all disappointed that the First Holy Communions on the 16th May will have to be postponed because of the government guidelines. As soon as restrictions are lifted, we will see what we are allowed to do and hopefully we can celebrate First Holy Communion during the summer months.
As large gatherings will probably not be allowed for a long time, we may have to have a number of Masses for smaller groups. We are very flexible as to what will suit you.
Thank you for making this sacrifice for the health of all our people. We are here every day waiting for your big day to arrive, and we are keeping in touch with the school so that we can come up with the best plan possible.
God bless you, and keep you and all your family safe and healthy.
Fr. Des & Grace Murray
- Funerals: I am pleased to see that the bereaved are being offered funeral services in Church, even within the confines of the current restrictions. In many cases the Funeral Mass is also being live streamed so that a wider range of relatives and friends can join, even in different parts of the world. Where possible people might line the streets, respecting social distancing, or stand at the doors of their houses as a local funeral passes by. This can be a much appreciated tribute to the deceased and a comfort to the bereaved.
For your information, the following Statement was issued to funeral directors in these days by the Irish Association of Funeral Directors:
The Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishops of a number of other Dioceses have asked us to remind our members that church services are an option for the funerals of those who have died from COVID-19. Families should be asked if this is their preference and you should check with your local parish.
- Confessions. Some parishes are providing Confession in a manner in which social distancing is maintained. This can prove very difficult. It is important to remember the Church’s norms regarding situations in which it is not possible for people to have direct access to the Sacrament
“Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452)”.
FURTHER UPDATE ON THE CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
15TH April 2020
- I ask your prayers for the repose of the souls of Father Pat Culhane who died today, as well as for Father Edward Grimes, Spiritan, who had provided various services in the Diocese. I also ask your prayers for Deacon Don Devaney, who is ill.
- I am aware of the challenges that priests are facing in these days. Our mission however is vital and important. I was struck by the reading of today’s Mass in which Peter, invoking the healing power of Jesus, then turned to the man who was healed, “took him by the hand and helped him to stand up.” Jesus’ powerful healing requires the simple gestures of support of us all.
- I am being asked about First Communions and Confirmations. We can only begin to speak of timetables for these Sacraments when it will be possible once again to hold large gatherings of people, especially children and this is unlikely for some months.
- Funeral arrangements: There still seems to be confusion about funeral arrangements, despite the very clear guidance from the healthcare authorities. Restricted funeral services or Masses may be held in Churches for those who die in these days, including those who died from the Covid-19 virus. This is current diocesan policy. Some priests have mentioned to me that they had been told by funeral directors that all funerals must go directly to cemeteries or crematoria without Mass or funeral service.
I draw your attention to the article in today’s Irish Independent, sponsored by the Irish Association of Funeral Directors:
“Among the biggest disruptions to normal life in the current crisis are the changes to the funeral rituals that are ingrained in our culture. Official guidelines mean that funeral Masses and services in Ireland are now private and restricted to a maximum of 10 immediate relatives, with social distancing being enforced at all times.”
The matter was discussed only yesterday with the working group at the Department of the Taoiseach at which I raised the issue and received confirmation of diocesan policy.
Wednesday 15 April 2020
FURTHER GUIDANCE FOR CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
Holy Saturday, 11 April
- On Holy Saturday, quietly the Church around the world awaits the celebration of the Resurrection. We await in hope and long to see hope restored.
I think of that great symbolic moment of the Easter Vigil when from the new fire of rebirth in Jesus Christ, new light begins to appear. In every Church, from the smallest Chapel to huge Cathedrals, out of the darkness one small light first emerges. The light of Christ appears in fragility. The light spreads to the entire community present, big or small, and finally light breaks through as we celebrate the victory of the Risen Lord.
The Light of Christ dispels darkness, but not in a magical way. The new light symbolises the power of Jesus self-giving love. On the Cross Jesus emptied himself and it was that self-giving love which opened the door to light. On this Easter night, our believing communities are called to take up the challenge of spreading the light of hope to all round them. As individuals and as the Church we resolve to be true to our calling to bring the love and the light of Christ into hearts around the world, beginning each of us with our own heart.
- I commend the initiative of RTE in Ireland but also of people around the world to let a light shine from wherever we live at 21.00 hours tonight. In some dioceses, Churches have decided to light up their buildings. I ask every parish to see ways in which we can join in this initiative as we celebrate the birth of new light.
- The religious geography of the Church in Ireland has changed. In our prayers, we should remember those who have come here from abroad and who celebrate Easter far from their home and their traditions. Some of these immigrants are the backbone of our carers and health care workers. We should reach out to them and their families.
FURTHER GUIDANCE ON CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
Holy Thursday, 9TH April 2020
- I wish to support an initiative that asks as a celebration of Easter, and as an act of prayerful solidarity to lift spirits at this time of social isolation, Cathedral and Church bells should ring at 12 noon on Easter Sunday. Where feasible, each parish should, carry out this gesture.
- The health care authorities have updated their advice concerning funerals. The entire text was sent to parishes two days ago. I re-produce some details regarding funeral services:
In order to ensure that families and loved ones, funeral directors, the religious and others who officiate at services and other workers are protected, a number of restrictions have been put in place. Representatives of faith communities and cultural groups will provide guidance to their own communities on how they will organise revised funeral arrangements. These will take account of the restrictions that have to be put in place.
When arranging funerals during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the key messages in the HSE guidance include:
- In light of current restriction on mass gatherings and the requirement for physical distancing, public reposals and gatherings at funeral homes are discouraged. The funeral should be private and limited to a maximum of ten people as advised by the public health authorities. Only the following should attend:
- members of the person’s household
- close family members
- close friends if the deceased has no household or family members.
- Numbers attending funerals, however, may be restricted further in smaller enclosed places. Social distancing must be practiced at all times. Depending on local circumstances individual churches or other funeral locations may also put in place restrictions on numbers.
- Mourners should follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering.
- Social distancing of at least 2m between identified groups is recommended for everyone.
- Physical interactions including shaking hands and hugging should be avoided.
- Arrangements should not be advertised in papers and online (the funeral notice can be placed but the arrangements should not appear).
- Families can advise relatives privately of the funeral arrangements. The following wording has been suggested as an example:
A private funeral will take place due to government advice regarding public gatherings. Those who would have liked to attend the funeral, but due to current restrictions cannot, please leave a personal message in the section below ‘Condolences’.
- In the papers, a similar message can be written with reference to www.rip.ie or funeral director company website to offer the family condolences.
- The use of condolence books is discouraged and people are recommended to send condolences through social media, online websites, text or by letter.
- The family should be advised that they may have a Memorial Service at a later date.
- Where possible, close contacts and relatives of the deceased should use their own transport for attendance at the funeral.
This guidance relates to all funerals, including bereavements that are COVID-19 related and non COVID-19 related. Families of the deceased are asked to respect any advice or restrictions that might be put in place during this difficult time.
Unfortunately, due to the restrictions in place at this time, family and friends of the deceased will not be able to have gatherings after the funeral service. While this will undoubtedly be difficult for all concerned, there will be an opportunity, in time, for family and friends and the wider community to come together to celebrate the life of the deceased
- Information of services by Crosscare and Accord Dublin. I include a copy of a Press Release issued today. You might like to draw attention to these services in Parish communications and thus let people know of these important Diocesan initiatives
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has drawn attention to the ongoing services being offered in the current crisis by two of the Diocesan Agencies, Crosscare and Accord Dublin. He paid tribute to these agencies for their creativity and concern in continuing to provide these services. The services include care for the homeless, emergency food support as well as on-line relationship counselling.
Conor Hickey, Director of Crosscare illustrated the wide range of services currently being offered by Crosscare.
“I am extremely proud of the way the team in Crosscare have responded to the crisis. From early on, priorities were established and resources concentrated on keeping key services open. Good contingency planning and regular communication with all staff and volunteers has meant that the staff group remain united and morale is generally as good as can be expected under these trying circumstances.While some of our face to face services have had to be adapted to meet HSE requirements, as much as possible we are continuing to provide supports through other remote means including phone and web based technologies. Full details of our current service provision for our service users is as follows:
- Our Homeless Services including our residential facility for young people are open and operating normally and in line with HSE guidelines. We are working closely with the HSE, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, Tusla and other government bodies, local authorities and colleagues in other similar organisations to ensure that our service users’ needs are supported and our people are kept safe.
- At the request of the HSE we are taking over the management of an extra 100 bed facility in the city centre designed to cocoon vulnerable people out of existing overcrowded homeless services.
- Our Food Banks remain open to support those most in need at this difficult time and we have made changes at a local level to ensure that the health of all involved is safeguarded.
- Additional food parcels are being delivered to families and individuals across the city from our centre in Blanchardstown.
- Our Community Cafes remain open providing takeaway services to protect the health of our teams and customers.
- Our Carecall team are operating a normal service making calls daily to all our clients. In partnership with the charity ALONE we are supporting the work of their helpline by taking over lists of older people who require daily contact and higher levels of support. We have also transferred 11 of our staff who were confined to home to ALONE to help them deal with the surge in numbers calling their helpline.
- All Youth Services are being offered through telephone and on line support platforms.
- Our Drugs and Alcohol Programme team are carrying out online sessions with their clients.
- Our Voluntary Clubs team continue to support the local volunteers across the city.
- Crosscare Information and Advocacy Services remain very busy with all services now being offered by phone and email.
On its part Accord Dublin today announced a new help line for people struggling with relationship issues.
ACCORD Dublin has setup a helpline to provide support for people struggling with relationship issues during this time of self-isolation. The contact number is 01 9059555. The line is open from 10 until 1 pm every Monday to Friday.
More details from their new website www.accorddublin.ie
Friday 3rd April 2020
- Some liturgical suggestions from Fr Damian McNeice
For Holy Thursday Evening Mass
The Congregation for Divine Worship asks that the Washing of Feet is to be omitted. .It may be appropriate at the point when the Washing of Feet normally takes place, that a jug of water, a bowl and a towel are placed in a significant location. A time could then be allowed for the many following by webcam to focus their attention on the profound meaning of these symbols among us in these days where so many healthcare staff are serving the sick, the dying and their loved ones.
Reference could also be made in the homily to those in other services like food shops and food suppliers, pharmacies, those caring for the poorest (such as Crosscare)and other public services to remember how they are embodying Jesus’ example of service to others and in the giving of his life for the world.
For Good Friday
A Prayer whilst the Cross is held aloft for the contemplation of the people.
Lord Jesus, you said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
On the Cross, you show your total solidarity with us.
You go to the very lowest point of the human condition.
Ours, the sufferings you bore, ours the sorrows you carried
In the face of evil and suffering, all you do is give love,
with a compassion that excludes no one.
Through your wounds, we are healed.
Your love disarms all our refusals,
and you bring us forgiveness and peace.
We come to you, then, with confident trust,
knowing we shall have mercy
and grace when in need of help.
We lift up to you this holy day
those members of your Body suffering throughout the world:
all who are carrying heavy burdens,
those lacking the very basics of human dignity,
those violently oppressed, refugees, the homeless poor,
those who are ill, the lonely, the dying,
those caring for them, listening to them,
the broken-hearted, those whose spirit is crushed.
We lift up to you particularly
those burdened as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic:
those affected, their families, those who have died,
frontline workers and those in public services
sacrificing themselves for the good of others.
We thank you for those witnessing to your loving kindness
in the midst of humanity’s need with countless acts of generosity.
As we pray for the suffering members of your Body throughout the world
by your cross, give strength; by your cross, bring hope,
by your cross, disarm our fears and hardness of heart.
You, who are lifted up from the earth, draw all people to yourself.
There in your wide embrace, grant us healing and peace
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you,
because by your holy Cross
you have redeemed the world.
- Should Churches remain open? Many have expressed the desire that at this moment there should not necessarily be a general closure of Churches. The Holy Father has also appealed to keep Churches open. Obviously, there are new difficulties where sacristans and cleaners who are over 70 can no longer supervise and cleanse Churches. It has been suggested that this could be overcome, for example, by opening a roped off section near the Church entrance where seats and benches are removed and where people could stand for a short period of prayer.
- The directives issued this week by the health care authorities regarding the celebration of funerals remain in place.
Friday 3 April 2020
FURTHER GUIDELINES REGARDING CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
Wednesday 1 April 2020
The Celebration of Holy Week
- Regrettably I feel that it will not be possible to have any public celebration of the Liturgies of Holy Week. It would be very difficult to limit the number of those attending, especially on Good Friday, when many vulnerable people might feel obliged to come to our Churches.
- This makes it all the more urgent to ensure that people are made aware of the manner in which they can access the ceremonies by television or on line and to ensure that parishioners are made aware of the dates and times of transmissions.
- For the elderly the televised services on RTE are by far the easiest to access. I will send out this afternoon a complete list of the times of the RTE transmissions. We are all particularly grateful to RTE for the service they are providing.
- The transmissions from the Pro-Cathedral will be available on the Diocesan Website. It may not be feasible for every parish to provide individual web transmissions. Parish groupings and nearby parishes might cooperate in order to have one parish to take the lead role for each of the ceremonies.
- The Congregation for Divine Worship, on the mandate of the Holy Father, has set out details of the special arrangements of the ceremonies being conducted in the current situation behind closed doors. They are as follows:
Palm Sunday. The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within sacred buildings; in Cathedral churches the second form given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted; in parish churches and in other places the third form is to be used.
The Chrism Mass. In the Archdiocese of Dublin and in numerous other dioceses, the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass is suspended and will be celebrated at a later date.
Holy Thursday. The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted. At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the procession is also omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle. On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests.
Good Friday. In the Universal Prayer, the following special intention is to be inserted:
For the afflicted in time of pandemic
Let us pray also for all those who suffer the consequences of the current pandemic, that God the Father may grant health to the sick, strength to those who care for them, comfort to families and salvation to all the victims who have died.
Prayer in silence. Then the Priest says:
Almighty ever-living God,
only support of our human weakness,
look with compassion upon the sorrowful condition of your children
who suffer because of this pandemic;
relieve the pain of the sick,
give strength to those who care for them,
welcome into your peace those who have died
and, throughout this time of tribulation,
grant that we may all find comfort in your merciful love.
Through Christ our Lord.
The adoration of the Cross-by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant. Parishes might be able to transmit a simple Way of the Cross.
The Easter Vigil Is to be celebrated only in Cathedral and parish churches and not in seminaries, houses of clergy, monasteries and religious communities. For the “Baptismal Liturgy” only the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” is maintained
Expressions of popular piety and processions which enrich the days of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum can be transferred to other suitable days in the year, for example 14 and 15 September (the Feast of the Holy Cross). This applies to Dawn Masses and Sunrise Celebrations.
- Over the next few days the Diocesan Liturgical Office will provide some indication of symbols and prayers which might help enrich the starkness of liturgies celebrated in empty Churches as well as support family and personal prayer. I will also send some indications about the opening of Churches for private prayer.
Wednesday 1 April 2020
FURTHER UPDATE REGARDING CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
31st March 2020
I include the full text of the Government Statement made this morning regarding funeral services in the current situation.
This text reflects the common position of a meeting of various stakeholders, including representatives of funeral directors, held at the Department of the Taoiseach on Monday.
This statement represents the current authentic position of the public health authorities regarding funerals in the Republic of Ireland. Like all policies, it is subject to revision in the future. I ask you to read this Statement attentively.
“Another sensitive issue that has arisen, and caused concern for people, over the course of this emergency is that of funeral services. The government’s critical services list issued on Saturday included funerals as one of those services.
The government wants to ensure that families are able to bury their loved ones in a respectful manner while ensuring that all involved – mourners, funeral directors, celebrants and all involved in these services are protected from COVID-19.
The HSE has already provided guidance in this regard and further guidance is now being developed and will be published shortly.
In the meantime, I can confirm that immediate family members can still attend funeral services, burials and cremations, provided that social distancing rules are respected. This relates to all funerals, including those arising out of COVID-19 deaths.
While we know this is difficult, in general, numbers attending should not exceed 10 persons in places of worship and at the graveside but this may be restricted further in smaller enclosed places. Individual churches may also put in place restrictions which respond to specific local circumstances.
We are continuing to liaise with all stakeholders to protect the dignity of Irish funerals as we navigate this difficult period and we will review practices as necessary
We would encourage anybody affected by these issues to contact the range of bereavement and other support services that are available”.
The public health authority advice states:
- Immediate family members not exceeding 10 persons may still attend funeral services, burial and cremations, provided that social distancing rules are enforced
- This relates to all funerals including those arising out of COVID-19 deaths.
- The number not exceeding 10 persons applies to places of worship and at the
- The number may be restricted in smaller enclosed spaces and Churches may put in place restrictions which respond to specific local circumstances.
Tuesday 31 March 2020
FURTHER UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
Sunday 29 March 2020
- We remember in our prayers Monsignor John Fitzpatrick who died yesterday after a long illness. He was a priest who rendered exceptional service in parishes and in the diocese. He gave great support to fellow priests. May he rest in peace.
- The government has published the list of those whose work is considered “essential” and who are therefore permitted to travel for work reasons. “Religious personnel” are included. The term “religious personnel” is used in order to cover ministers of various Christian denominations and other faiths.In the current situation, the term “essential” applies to service in exceptional circumstances and movement should be limited to what is essential. Those involved should have some form of photo identity with them always and be able to indicate the reasons for travelling.
- We will prepare a letter that can be used by Deacons, Parish Pastoral Workers or others who may have to officiate at funeral services.
- There is still some confusion about funeral services. Government advice about what is appropriate in the Republic of Ireland will be prepared tomorrow afternoon. It is likely that measures will be introduced that greatly restrict the numbers who may attend a burial service and the distance that will be imposed between individuals and from the graveside.
- It is important to remember that government advice takes into consideration not just individual measures but also the appropriate time in which these measures are to be introduced. The advice may vary from what is decided in other jurisdictions. We should trust that advice and not rush ahead with personal ideas.
- There are many initiatives springing up about ways of contacting the sick and the lonely and bringing encouragement and help, including food and supplies. Parishes should look at how they can support such important initiatives.
- Priests over the age of 70, including myself, are not to leave their homes. This brings extra work and pressure and stress on all those who remain in frontline ministry. Some parishes may no longer have a priest available. Deaneries should become a focal point for coordinating services. . We should not forget the care of the elderly priests.
- We have to remember that while the current restrictive measures are in force until Easter Sunday, it would be foolish to think that the current situation will not continue for a number of months. This prolonged situation will bring mental and spiritual stress to many and indeed to priests. We have to build mutual support.
Sunday 29th March 2020
FURTHER ADVICE ON CORONAVIRUS SITUATION
Saturday 28th March 2020
- The new norms require that all people over 70 or those who are particularly vulnerable be shielded or “cocooned”. This applies immediately to priests, deacons and all religious and lay staff of parishes. These categories must remain indoors at all times for the coming two weeks. I would ask that each deanery coordinate back-up services for those who find themselves in this situation and ensure that they receive moral support and to see that their needs are met.
- Others are urgently required to stay at home except in particular and determined situations.
- Should Churches remain open? There is no problem with Churches remaining open if they can guarantee social spacing and hygiene. In the current situation most Churches are not in a position to ensure that surfaces would be cleaned regularly and in that situation it is best to close the church
- Funerals: the government guidance to me at this point is that the arrangements hitherto in place continue: funerals with small attendance and safe distancing. Further guidance will come on Monday.
- Funerals of those who die from the virus. When someone dies from the virus the public health authorities will have carried out a thorough search of everyone who had close contact with them and these people will be in isolation. They will not be at the funeral. Indeed such funerals would probably be among the safest.
- There is no reason why webcam Masses should not continue. Indeed web-based simple pastoral services should be enhanced. They could be used for talks and messages to inspire encouragement, hope and prayerfulness and not just liturgical services
- Is the work of clergy and pastoral workers considered “essential”? At the moment, I am assured that they are included in the category “social care” in the provisional list. It is the intention of the authorities to make more specific reference to clergy and pastoral in the definitive list that may not be available until Monday.
FURTHER UPDATE ON PASTORAL RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
Wednesday 25th March 2020
Taoiseach’s address – what changes for Churches?
- In order to avoid confusion, I include below the relevant sections of the Taoiseach’s address for reference. I have highlighted in in bold the sections relevant to the Church.
“So, I am asking you to stay home if possible. That is the best way to slow the virus, ensure our hospitals are not overwhelmed and buy us the time we need to build more capacity – testing, contact tracing, beds, ventilators.
So, you should only leave home to go to work if you can’t work from home and your attendance is essential. You should only go to the shops for essential supplies, out for medical or dental appointments, to care for others or to take physical exercise.
Non-essential indoor visits to other people’s homes should be avoided. Social gatherings of individuals outdoors should be of no more than four, unless you are all from same household.
In order to assist all of this, the restrictions I announced in Washington DC are being extended until Sunday 19th April.
And, the following new actions are being taken:
- All theatres, clubs, gyms/leisure centres, hairdressers, betting shops, marts, markets, casinos, bingo halls, libraries and other similar outlets are to shut;
- All hotels to limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons;
- All non-essential retail outlets are to close to members of the public and all other retail outlets are to implement physical distancing; [a list of essential stores is provided]
- All cafes and restaurants are to limit supply to take away food or delivery;
- All sporting events are cancelled, including those behind closed doors;
- All playgrounds and holiday/caravan parks will close;
- All places of worship are to restrict numbers entering at any one time to ensure adequate physical distancing;
- All organised social indoor and outdoor events of any size are not to take place.
As I mentioned earlier, individuals should work from home unless attendance at workplace is absolutely essential.
Social gatherings of individuals outdoors should be no more than four persons, unless all are from the same household.
All crowded places, including public amenities, should be avoided”. An Taoiseach
- The fundamental message is “stay at home if at all possible”. The Buildings of the Diocesan Offices are closed and staff are working from home and are contactable by e-mail or phone.
- We should be encouraging people to stay at home and we should not be organizing gatherings in Churches. We have to learn how the Church can now minister in different circumstances working from our homes.
- The references to gathering of 4 people or less refers as you can see to outdoor events.
- Places of worship are to restrict numbers at any one time in order to ensure adequate physical distancing. Churches are open for private prayer. The criterion for limiting access is the ability to guarantee physical distancing. The application of this measure involves discretion but also prudence and responsibility. We should in no way – even indirectly – be encouraging vulnerable people to leave their homes. Disregard for this norm will only lead to a situation like that of the Church of England to closing all Churches.
- Attendance at funerals should be limited to small numbers. Be sensitive to the desires of families as to who should attend. It is possible to substitute a prayer service instead of Mass and where appropriate it is possible to celebrate Mass without distributing Holy Communion.
7. Priests have received copies of the HSE guidance regarding funerals of those who have died through contracting the virus. The responsibility of preparing the remains falls on funeral directors. Relatives who have been living with or in close contact with the deceased will be obliged to self-isolation or containment and cannot leave home.
- In its recent documents, the Holy See has drawn attention to two strong traditions of the Catholic Church. The first regards spiritual communion and this should be counselled where there is a danger in distributing communion. The second is the tradition that in the event of difficulty in accessing Confession that making an act of perfect contrition with the desire to receive the sacrament is sufficient for the forgiveness of all sins even mortal sins. ENDS
FURTHER UPDATE REGARDING RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS
Monday March 23rd 2020
- Up to now, the advice of the Irish health authorities allowed for gatherings in enclosed spaces of up to 100 people, providing that social distancing was practiced and that the vulnerable were discouraged from attending. This meant that holding Mass in public in specific circumstances was permissible. At the meeting of the VF’s on Friday last, a majority were in favour of continuing our current practice. The overall situation is however changing rapidly and there is growing concern about movement of people. In the light of the changing situation, I have decided that it will not be possible to continue with public Sunday or Weekday Masses in the Archdiocese of Dublin from Wednesday 25th March until further notice.
2. The arrangements for baptisms, funerals and weddings remain in place but with the requirement that the numbers present be strictly limited, that social distancing be scrupulously respected and that Church buildings be cleaned and surfaces disinfected regularly.
3. Churches can remain open for prayer. However, there must be a guarantee of social distancing on all occasions and Church buildings must be cleaned and surfaces disinfected regularly.
4. You will have received information this morning that Pope Francis has made an appeal for special prayers by the Church around the world. He asks that Catholics around the world should, either individually or in community, recite the Lord’s Prayer at 12.00 noon on Wednesday next, 25th March. In addition, the Pope invites Catholics of the entire world to unite themselves spiritually with him in a Prayer Service from Saint Pater’s Square on Friday next, 27 March, at 18.00. The prayer will conclude with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament imparted “Urbi et Orbi”. To all who unite themselves spiritually with the Holy Father a Plenary Indulgence will be granted.Further information concerning web-access to this ceremony will be made available as soon as it is received.
5. Archbishop Eamon Martin will lead a prayer of Consecration of Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Wednesday 25th . You will also have received information and resources.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
FURTHER UPDATE ON ARRANGEMENTS CONCERNING CORONAVIRUS
Saturday 14th March 2020
The restrictive measures introduced by the health care authorities are vital measures to limit spread of the coronavirus. We all have a moral responsibility and a civic duty to respect them in detail in order to protect us and others.
- The health authority’s norms on limiting attendance at indoor gatherings to 100 people and the norms regarding social distancing are strictly binding on all. No individual or parish has the authority to deviate from or redefine these norms. If there is any doubt or risk about arrangements, Mass should be cancelled.
- All are dispensed from the obligation of physical presence at Sunday Mass. It should be explained to vulnerable people why they are to be discouraged from attending Mass..
- Parishes should make adequate arrangements to enable people to prayerfully participate at Sunday Mass by radio and on-line.
- Social distancing: For any event, including funerals, the norms regarding social distancing (people should be at a distance from each other of at least one metre) are obligatory. This is a vital health care norm as the virus can be most easily contracted by person to person contact. It applies also to the presence of people in Churches for private prayer.
- I am aware that this involves considerable inconvenience. It is inspiring to see just how meticulously Pope Francis practices and applies these norms.
- Should the current norms not be scrupulously observed, norms that are more restrictive will be introduced. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Friday March 13th
UPDATE ON PASTORAL ARRANGEMENTS CONCERNING CORONAVIRUS
What is the situation concerning Masses?
- Where you feel that it would not be possible for you to limit attendance at Mass to 100 people, then Masses should be suspended. This applies especially to Saint Patrick’s Day.
The following or similar notice should be placed on Church doors and disseminated through local sources.
DUE TO MEASURES INTRODUCED BY HEALTHCARE AUTHORITIES LIMITING ATTENDANCE AT PUBLIC INDOOR GATHERINGS TO 100 PEOPLE, MASS IN THIS CHURCH IS SUSPENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
THE CHURCH WILL BE OPEN FOR PRIVATE PRAYER EACH DAY FROM……………………………
MASS IS TRANSMITTED EACH DAY VIA WEB-CAM ON ………………
Where it is clearly possible to celebrate Mass with less than 100 people present, there is no reason not to celebrate public Mass, especially on Weekdays.
- When making funeral arrangements it is essential to communicate to families in advance that only 100 people may be present in Church. In some cases, others could be accommodated by video link in parish centres.
- Where Mass is celebrated, it is vital that people keep the distance of one metre from each other.
- Churches should be open for a reasonable time each day to allow people to enter for private prayer.
- Advice by healthcare authorities is subject to change on a daily basis.
Thursday March 12th
IMPORTANT LETTER FROM ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN ON CORONAVIRUS SPECIAL MEASURES
Please read carefully the advice (below) issued this afternoon Thursday 12 March by the Irish Bishops.
Whereas I realise that many of these restrictive measures will make pastoral life more difficult, we have to remember that as a society we have a duty of care to protect ourselves and above all to protect others.
- All Confirmations are postponed until further notice. This applies with immediate effect.
- Are Masses cancelled? Not absolutely. Where normal attendance on Sundays or Weekdays is less than 100, there is no reason not to hold public Mass. Mass with limited congregations can be celebrated to permit participation by web-cam. Pope Francis does this himself every morning. Attention can be drawn for those who cannot attend Mass to the traditional practice of Spiritual Communion.
- In the current emergency, all are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass.
- Funerals: Funeral Masses can be celebrated but limited to close relatives or friends with at most 100 people inside the Church. Larger gatherings of up to 500 could take place outside after Mass or at a graveyard.
- Similarly Church Weddings and Baptisms can take place on condition that attendance does not exceed 100 people inside the Church.
- Within Churches it is necessary that people observe a distance of at least one metre from each other. This is because one of the easiest ways in which the virus is transmitted is through close contact.
- It is not permitted to pass baskets or collection bags from person to person. Arrangements must be made for closely monitored collection points at entrances to Churches, with distinction between the first and second collections. There is also an on-line payment facility for the Common Fund and Share collections on the front page of the diocesan website. Click on “Donate”.
The situation of isolation that many will feel with the current restrictions challenges the Christian community to be attentive to and remember those in our communities who live alone and especially families carrying extra burdens.
I am well aware of the burdens and uncertainty that this complex situation places on priests. We will experience a workload that is uncharted. We must pray for each other, support one another and remain hopeful and be a focal point to provide hope for others. Our Churches can remain open and offer consolation and comfort to us all.
Over the next days, up-dated information will be made available on the diocesan website.
Yours very sincerely
Archbishop of Dublin
Care for One another During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Advice issued by the four Archbishops on Thursday March 12th