Catholic Primate appeals for patience as worship restrictions ease

Bishops finalising guidelines for return of public Masses and sacraments in churches

Archbishop Eamon Martin said that ‘over the next few weeks our parishes will prepare for the reopening of churches to public worship. We realise that this will happen slowly and tentatively at first.’ Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

Archbishop Eamon Martin said that ‘over the next few weeks our parishes will prepare for the reopening of churches to public worship. We realise that this will happen slowly and tentatively at first.’ Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

 

The Catholic Primate has appealed to churchgoers to be “patient and understanding, and to cooperate in helping us fulfil our Church guidelines,” as restrictions on public worship in churches are relaxed from June 29th next.

Archbishop Eamon Martin said that “over the next few weeks our parishes will prepare for the reopening of churches to public worship. We realise that this will happen slowly and tentatively at first.”

Ireland’s Catholic bishops are holding their three-day summer meeting from Monday to Wednesday this week, over video link for the first time, and will finalise guidelines for the return to public Masses.

The Archbishop also pointed out that some people “may prefer, for a while, to continue to join us virtually from home over webcam, because of their vulnerability or because of nervousness about going out immediately into gatherings.” This may also apply to priests who “are cocooning and will be unable, at first, to provide their usual services and ministry,” he said.

Young people

It was the case too that “because of recommendations on physical distancing and hygiene, it will be necessary to reduce considerably the number of people who can gather inside church buildings at any one time. A small number of our liturgical customs may have to be adjusted to take account of health recommendations.”

He called on young people “to step forward in helping us manage the transition back to full parish life and celebration of the sacraments. We will need volunteers to assist with cleaning, stewarding, reading, ministering the Eucharist and other roles and responsibilities which some of our older members may be unable to fulfil at this time.”

‘Much to be done’

Archbishop Martin also warned that “there is still so much to be done, and many more sacrifices to make in order to keep Covid-19 suppressed and to chart a recovery back from the calamitous impact that it has had on so many lives and families.”

He commended dioceses and parishes for facilitating a “safe return of the faithful to public worship in a measured way, and for their reaching out to parishioners in very difficult circumstances during the lockdown which included the broadcasting of Mass and other prayer opportunities by webcam.”

Also, as Archbishop of Armagh, it was his “fervent hope and prayer that parishes in Northern Ireland will also soon be able to gather for public worship in the same way as parishes on the rest of the island.”