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Clogher Diocese bans public funerals and stands down priests aged over 70 from frontline duties

Bishop Duffy

Public funerals have been banned in a second Catholic diocese as part of efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The Clogher Diocese, which covers Co Monaghan, much of Co Fermanagh and parts of counties Tyrone and Donegal, is also standing down priests aged 70 and over from frontline ministry.

It has stopped baptisms, marriages, individual confessions and house calls.

Announcing the move, Bishop of Clogher Larry Duffy said he was "saddened to have to take this course of action".

However, he added that "in the prevailing circumstances and to protect the lives, health and wellbeing of all", he had no other option.

"When I was appointed bishop just over a year ago, I could never have imagined I would have to take such radical actions and to have to take them so swiftly," he said.

"But we all have to make sacrifices for the common good because we have a responsibility to each other. Truthfully, our fate and the fate of others is in our own hands."

Bishop Duffy said that for all funerals, the funeral mass will be celebrated at a later date. In the meantime, the body of the deceased will be brought directly to the place of burial. Burial will be led by a priest, deacon or, if necessary, a layperson.

Last week the Down and Connor Diocese, which includes Belfast, announced similar measures around funerals.

Separately, a bishop criticised "selfish" parishioners for putting pressure on priests to hold mass.

Bishop Kevin Doran from the Elphin Diocese, which covers parts of counties Roscommon, Sligo and Galway and Westmeath, said: "Unfortunately, a very small minority are putting pressure on some priests to celebrate private masses for them.

"This is selfish and contradicts the very meaning of communion. The restrictions are for your safety."

Belfast Telegraph