The four Catholic archbishops of Ireland have requested a meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin to address concerns about the loss of mass services during Covid-19 restrictions.
Under Level 3 all religious services must move online, although places of worship can remain open for private prayer.
However, a letter from the Archbishops points out that communal celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, even with restricted numbers, “is at the very heart of what it means for us to be a Christian community”.
“We wish to engage constructively with the civil authorities to ensure that our people have continued access to the support of Mass and the Sacraments and essential spiritual nourishment for these challenging times,” it says.
The letter, a copy of which has been seen by The Irish Times, is signed by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin; Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam; and Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly of Cashel and Emly.
They stress their support for the guidance of public health authorities but are clearly concerned about the access to mass being online only.
Mass, the letter explains, “is not simply ‘gatherings’ of people, but profound expressions of who we are as a Church.
“We are also acutely aware that for parishes and individual Catholics the loss of these spiritual supports can be a source of great anxiety and fear, and can have a detrimental impact on their overall health and well-being.
“We would be grateful to have a meeting with you in the coming days and look forward to constructive discussion on these issues.”