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Archbishop urges churches to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions

Archbishop Martin said ‘there is no room for self-dispensation from or self-interpretation of the norms’.

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Archbishop Diarmuid Martin called on churches to ‘adhere strictly to public policy’ (Brian Lawless/PA)

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin called on churches to ‘adhere strictly to public policy’ (Brian Lawless/PA)

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin called on churches to ‘adhere strictly to public policy’ (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Archbishop of Dublin has urged churches to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions after a Dublin church held a mass.

Government guidelines advise that places of worship such as churches should not reopen until phase four of its roadmap for lifting restrictions, which is set for July 20.

In a statement on Thursday, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said public health policy will only work when its proposals are fully respected by all.

He was responding to events at the Church of the Guardian Angels in the suburb of Blackrock. The church had been opening its doors to allow parishioners to stand at the back, observing social distancing rules, during mass.

“The Dublin parish referred to in media reports in these days has in fact a policy statement on its website stating unambiguously ‘public attendance at daily or Sunday Mass is not permissible during the current pandemic’,” said the archbishop.

“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.”

He 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.

He said: “I repeat the words of Pope Francis when churches in Italy were reopened for public worship – ‘but please, let us proceed respecting the norms, the prescriptions we are given to safeguard the health of each individual and the people’.”

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Dr Tony Holohan said NPHET was sensitive to people’s religious convictions (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan said NPHET was sensitive to people’s religious convictions (Brian Lawless/PA)

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Dr Tony Holohan said NPHET was sensitive to people’s religious convictions (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan was asked about the issue at the daily National Public Health Emergency Team media briefing.

He said he was not aware of the particular incident in Blackrock but reiterated the general guidance.

“We’re advising against indoor gatherings for the reasons we’ve set out,” he said.

“We don’t think now’s the right time, although we’re sensitive to people’s religious convictions and beliefs and we’ll be giving ongoing consideration as to when we think it is the right time.”

PA