Catholic bishops call for urgent increase of funeral gathering limit

ireland
Catholic Bishops Call For Urgent Increase Of Funeral Gathering Limit
They have recommended the postponement of the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies “for the time being”. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Digital Desk Staff

Catholic bishops are urging church members to lobby their TDs over Covid-related restrictions on Masses and funerals, saying limits on public worship should be “proportionate and for the shortest time possible”.

As The Irish Times repots, in a statement on Tuesday, the bishops requested an immediate increase in the number of people permitted at funerals and a return to regular church services once Level 5 restrictions begin to ease.

However, in keeping with public health guidance, they have recommended the postponement of the sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies “for the time being”.

In a statement, they noted Taoiseach Micheál Martin met the four Catholic Archbishops - Eamon Martin of Armagh, Dermot Farrell of Dublin, Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel and Emly, and Michael Neary of Tuam - on February 19th.

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“Despite assurances from the Taoiseach last month that the concerns expressed by the Archbishops would be given serious consideration, we note with disappointment that none of the issues raised has been responded to.”

The archbishops said they were therefore making an urgent appeal that a number of matters be addressed.

Grieving families

These include “that the number of mourners permitted at funeral services be increased, with immediate effect”. They noted that in Northern Ireland this number had not been reduced below 25.

“The current restriction places immense burdens on grieving families, compounding the pain of their loss,” the statement continued.

They have also requested a restoration of public worship as part of the next easing of restrictions, as opposed to later on.

“For people of faith not to be free to worship until regulations return to Level 2, whilst many other restrictions are eased, is seen as particularly distressing and unjust.”

They added: “We encourage Catholics to make their views on these issues known to their own TDs and local representatives.”

In their statement on day two of their Spring General Meeting, the bishops said their meeting last month with the Taoiseach had been about continuing dialogue around the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on people’s lives.

“It is particularly painful for Christians to be deprived, for the second year running, of the public expression of our faith during the most sacred time of Holy Week and Easter.”

They maintain that church buildings “are among the safest” gathering locations and stress that ongoing limitations of ten people at funerals is “causing untold grief” to families.

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