Latest Update on Coronavirus Situation

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Friday 3rd  April 2020




  1. 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.

 +Diarmuid Martin,

Friday 3 April 2020





Wednesday 1 April 2020

The Celebration of Holy Week



  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.

R/. Amen.


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.


  1. 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.


+Diarmuid Martin

Wednesday 1 April 2020








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.


+Diarmuid Martin

Tuesday 31 March 2020




Sunday 29 March 2020




  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. We will prepare a letter that can be used by Deacons, Parish Pastoral Workers or others who may have to officiate at funeral services.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.

+Diarmuid Martin

Sunday 29th March 2020





Saturday 28th March 2020


  1. 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.


  1. Others are urgently required to stay at home except in particular and determined situations.


  1. 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


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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


  1. 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.


+Diarmuid Martin




Wednesday 25th March 2020

Taoiseach’s address – what changes for Churches?


  1. 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



  1. 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.


  1. 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.



  1. The references to gathering of 4 people or less refers as you can see to outdoor events.


  1. 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.



  1. 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.


  1. 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

+Diarmuid Martin







Monday March 23rd 2020 



  1. 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










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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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..


  1. Parishes should make adequate arrangements to enable people to prayerfully participate at Sunday Mass by radio and on-line.


  1. 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.


  1. I am aware that this involves considerable inconvenience. It is inspiring to see just how meticulously Pope Francis practices and applies these norms.


  1. Should the current norms not be scrupulously observed, norms that are more restrictive will be introduced.               Archbishop Diarmuid Martin










Friday March 13th 


   What is the situation concerning Masses?


  1. 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.






 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.


  1. 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.


  1. Where Mass is celebrated, it is vital that people keep the distance of one metre from each other.


  1. Churches should be open for a reasonable time each day to allow people to enter for private prayer.


  1. Advice by healthcare authorities is subject to change on a daily basis.






Thursday March 12th 



Dear Father,

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


+Diarmuid Martin

Archbishop of Dublin





Care for One another During the Coronavirus Pandemic


Advice issued by the four Archbishops on Thursday March 12th