Diarmaid Ferriter: Church is overdoing the righteousness amid Communions row

Communion comments and persistence of ‘Almighty God’ oath signal link with clergy

The assertion this week by Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell that the “only gathering that seems to cause risk is a parent taking their child to receive a sacrament” was disingenuous. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

The assertion this week by Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell that the “only gathering that seems to cause risk is a parent taking their child to receive a sacrament” was disingenuous. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

The leadership of the Irish Catholic Church has been exhibiting a passive aggressiveness in recent years as it comes to grips with transition. It is aware of its dramatic loss of standing and the consequences of its historic arrogance and periodically uses the language of atonement, yet it also finds solace in the considerable bedrock of faith that endures and its ability to tap into strong public feeling about Communion days in particular.

But it is also now lining up with other representatives of aggrieved sectors, and seems to be well down the queue, its moral monopoly a distant memory. Like those other groups, it has legitimate complaints to make about inconsistent and contradictory public health guidelines, but it is also overdoing the righteousness, as whether the controversy about Communions is primarily about sacraments is highly debatable. The assertion this week by Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell that the “only gathering that seems to cause risk is a parent taking their child to receive a sacrament” was disingenuous. It was clear last autumn, as outlined by Dr Anthony Breslin, the Health Service Executive’s director of public medicine for the northwest, that a surge in virus cases was linked to Communion and Confirmation parties.

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