Catholic church ‘fully supports’ Covid efforts, says archbishop

First Communions and Confirmations set to resume in Dublin diocese next month

The Catholic Church has “fully supported” necessary measures to protect public health and welfare during the Covid-19 pandemic, Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell has said ahead of the planned restart of First Communion and Confirmation services.

The archbishop said he found it difficult to explain or justify why parents of children receiving the sacraments “cannot be trusted” to observe Covid-19 guidelines when other events, for which households were allowed to mix, could take place.

However, he said, in light of a Government statement on Friday committing to ease the restrictions soon, “I have renewed my advice to parishes to postpone the celebration of the sacraments until September.”

Last Tuesday, the Archbishop sent a strongly-worded letter to priests criticising the current restrictions and telling them they had permission to restart First Communions and Confirmations in the autumn notwithstanding the Government guidelines.


These guidelines advise that such religious ceremonies “should not take place at this time”.

The Government said on Friday it “hopes to see those restrictions lifted in September”, subject to the public health situation at the time.


A number of sources said Taoiseach Micheál Martin intends to write to Catholic Church leaders informing them of the move. There will also be engagement with faith leaders over the coming months ahead of the resumption.

Speaking at Vigil Mass at St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin on Saturday evening, Archbishop Farrell said: "In today's second reading the Ephesians are called, as followers of Christ, to practise kindness, patience and forgiveness.

“In that spirit, I look forward to a resumption of the positive engagement between the churches and the public authorities, based on respect both for the protection of public health, and for the responsible exercise of freedom to worship by those who are drawn to receive ‘the bread of life’.”

A number of Catholic bishops have already given the go-ahead for Communions and Confirmations to take place in their dioceses later this month in defiance of the guidelines.

Archbishop Farrell - who was formally conferred at the Mass as Metropolitan of the Archdiocese - said in his homily that it has been “a source of deep frustration to many families, and to parish communities, that for so many months they have been unable to celebrate the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation”.

“They have been perplexed, as am I, that of all of the types of events which might give rise to mingling between households, it is uniquely these sacraments which are prohibited under public guidelines,” he said.

“In all other aspects of life, whether family celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries, or fans gathering to watch sporting events, or indeed after weddings and funerals, people are trusted and expected to observe the guidelines on household mixing.

“Households are permitted to mix, in homes and in restaurants, in ways that take account of the age and vaccination status of those present. I find it difficult to explain, or justify, that it is only parents of children receiving the sacraments who cannot be trusted to observe these guidelines.”


While he supported the postponement of First Communions and Confirmations until next month, Archbishop Farrell said: “I can understand, however, the frustration and the resentment of those who feel that the public guidelines are unfair and discriminatory.”

Highlighting how the Church had complied with public health efforts throughout the pandemic, he added: “We have encouraged the faithful to see recent restrictions on public worship as a form of self-sacrifice, enabling them to perform a Christian service.

“In the same way, we encourage all those who are eligible to be vaccinated for their own good and to help to protect others.”

He said that when public worship was again permitted, parish communities rose to the challenge “of welcoming the faithful to celebrate safely and responsibly, with a scrupulous regard to numbers, social distancing and sanitisation”.

“In the same way, we urge everyone to be responsible in how they behave outside Church, especially by complying with guidelines regarding socialising between households.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times