Archbishops welcome return of public worship but ‘testing times’ for North

Vital to show solidarity with doctors, health workers and carers, says Eamon Martin

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said ‘we have witnessed during the shock of this pandemic a resurgence of some of the things that are central to human community.’ Photograph: Getty

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said ‘we have witnessed during the shock of this pandemic a resurgence of some of the things that are central to human community.’ Photograph: Getty

 

Dublin’s two Archbishops have welcomed the lifting of Government pandemic restrictions that will see public worship resume in the Republic from Tuesday.

However, it is very different in in Armagh where Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin noted that “here in Northern Ireland, public worship has once more been suspended for two weeks in a so-called ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown”.

This “ whilst south of the border, congregations can return to Mass and the Sacraments from Tuesday next.”

It meant “testing times, and it can be difficult for some of us to find the resilience to keep going” but it was “vital that we continue to show solidarity with doctors, health workers and other carers who are at the front line of tackling the virus - day in, day out,” he said.

His counterpart in Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin welcomed“the return on Tuesday of public worship in our Churches,” and felt “we have witnessed during the shock of this pandemic a resurgence of some of the things that are central to human community.”

Speaking at Mass in St Andrew’s Church on Westland Row, he said “we have seen the witness of people in the front line but also within the fabric of everyday society, the people who Pope Francis calls ‘The saints next door… the antibodies to the virus of indifference’.”

He recalled how “very few of us could have imagined just one year ago how our lives would have changed radically because of the current Covid pandemic.”

We lived “in a world fascinated by progress. Perhaps we deceived ourselves into thinking that progress was a linear process that automatically led to a gradual improvement of the human condition,” he said.

Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson said the reopening of churches for public worship on Tuesday, “while modest in comparison with what we have been accustomed to doing, will gladden the hearts of members of my own diocese particularly at this time of year.”

Gathering, he said, was “important in how people of faith function. This relates both to our self–understanding and to the positive contributions we make to civil society.

“Caution and care of others and of ourselves must be maintained as public health remains the guiding priority. Congregations have been asked to wear masks while in church and I urge everyone to continue to comply with the public health guidance.”

The Irish Church Together group, which represents the more evangelical Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal and New churches in Ireland, thanked Taoiseach Micheál Martin “for the work you have done in managing the return to Level 3 in this Covid crisis and specifically for the return to public worship from December 1st. Thank you for your detailed consideration of the case we made for public worship to be allowed at Level 3.”