Church closes its doors after flouting public health rules

Priests were contacted by Dublin Archdiocese and reminded of their responsibilities

A church in Blackrock, Co Dublin, closed its doors to the public on Thursday after it was reminded of its responsibilities by the Dublin Archdiocese following reports that dozens of Mass-goers have been attending services there in recent weeks.

Government guidelines stipulate that churches should not reopen until phase four of the roadmap to ease restrictions and reopen the country comes into effect on July 20th.

However, members of the public have been physically attending Mass at the Church of the Guardian Angels in direct violation of the restrictions.

While the church broadcasts Mass daily on its website, it is understood parishioners have been taking up seats behind the cameras at the back of the church.


However, those in attendance appear to have been adhering to social distancing guidelines, with seats positioned two metres apart.

It is unclear whether the Dublin Archdiocese, which has explicitly banned the practice, will take any action against the priests involved. However, it is understood they have been contacted and reminded of their responsibilities.


In a statement on Thursday, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin pointed to a policy statement on the parish’s website which “unambiguously” states: “Public attendance at daily or Sunday Mass is not permissible during the current pandemic.”

Archbishop Martin said: “I am assured that the parish has now returned to that policy.

“This Irish church is working intensely to ensure that the reopening of churches for public worship will be take place in a manner and at a time that is safe.

“I appeal to all churches in the Archdiocese of Dublin to adhere strictly to public policy, even if it involves patience and personal suffering.”

Archbishop Martin added that the Irish Bishops Conference will shortly publish a detailed document and checklist regarding the steps that each parish must take before the reopening of churches.

“What is involved is more than simple social distancing,” he said. “A vital dimension of the fight to address the coronavirus crisis is public health policy that proposes a sequenced effort to ensure that the reopening of diverse elements of society is properly and safely managed.


“The current public health policy has required sacrifice on the part of all of us. People have accepted that. I think of those who have had to bury a loved one without the normal process of grieving, with funeral rites limited to a bare minimum. We must show respect for those whose sacrifice has been greatest.

“Public health policy will only work when its proposals and sequencing are fully respected by all. There is no room for self-dispensation from or self-interpretation of the norms.

“Jumping the queue by individuals or communities puts everyone at risk. I have reminded all parishes this week that disregard for the norms of public health is something that is unacceptable.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter