Faith communities and public health

 

Sir, – The Catholic bishops are to be complimented for taking the decision to proceed with the administration of first holy communions and confirmations, in ceremonies that will be confined to small numbers and of shorter duration than usual.

The Government grievance that doing so “risks lives” and sets aside public health guidance is both insulting and without foundation.

Church ceremonies are safely conducted and forbidding the sacraments because of distrust of how people may behave afterwards ( in terms, presumably, of indoor gatherings) is an extreme form of State overreach.

Based on the Government’s logic, many other events, from the screening of the European Championships to the holding of live sports events, should be banned because of the possibility of gatherings afterwards, in private houses or elsewhere.

Trusting the families of those presenting for first communion and confirmation to do the right thing would be the most constructive approach for the Government, but once again in this pandemic faith communities have been singled out for the harshest of rules. – Yours, etc,

MAURICE O’BRIEN,

Cork.

Sir, – One can appreciate the frustration of families whose children are now waiting for over a year to make their Christian sacraments. But I know few people who will want to gamble with their health, or particularly that of a vulnerable member of their family.

The recent Covid-19 guidelines that allow for the sacrament of baptism again are to be welcomed as there are many on a waiting list and, unlike holy communion and confirmation, these tend to be smaller and more intimate family occasions.

One of the few positive results of this terrible pandemic is that for the foreseeable future parishes will be planning smaller and more intimate sacramental celebrations, which could place more emphasis on the faith celebration rather than the party after.

While the Government should not tell us how to pray, I think it is entitled to advise us how to party, at least in the short term. – Yours, etc,

FRANK

BROWNE,

Templeogue,

Dublin 16.