ADVICE ON CORONAVIRUS MEASURES
20 August 2020
Dear Father, Colleague and Parishioners
Attendance at religious services: The following is the authentic government position regarding attendance a religious ceremonies and funerals in the light of yesterday’s announcements:
“The situation regarding Religious Services in places of worship (including Funerals) remains unchanged (i.e. pods of up to 50 with social distancing etc., with the exception of counties Laois, Offaly and Kildare where the number is 25 at present).
The limit of 6 is for indoor settings in homes and applies to funeral related events in private homes (e.g. Wakes etc.).”
It is important that we strictly adhere to these norms. For your convenience, I reprint them below:
“Where the size of the premises allows for a capacity of greater than 50 this may be permitted only where:
Social distancing guidelines are adhered to
The premises can be subdivided into distinct sections (cordoned or marked appropriately) of not more than 50 persons in each section
There is a minimum of 4m between sections
Each section having its own entrance/exit route
There are separate arrangements for elements of the service involving close contact, e.g. the distribution of Holy Communion
Strictly no movement of people between sections before, during or after the service
The premises is well-ventilated.
Account must also be taken regarding the risk of congregation by people outside before and after any services, having regard to outdoor overall limits on mass gatherings and arrangements for staggered exiting after ceremonies
The use of face coverings is strongly recommended for such indoor settings”.
The use of facemasks: I am being asked if the wearing of facemasks is obligatory during religious services. As you will see from above the use of face coverings by all those attending indoor religious services if is strongly recommended. This means that non-wearing of face coverings should only occur in exceptions circumstances. In certain circumstances, (and this would include smaller Churches or places that are not well ventilated) the wearing of face coverings is obligatory by virtue of the general norms and is legally binding.
The Framework Document of the Irish Bishops and the HSE guidance say that face coverings are obligatory on priests, deacons and lay ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion.
Presence of parents at the celebration of the sacraments: I wish to repeat what I have already communicated regarding the right of both parents to attend the administration of the sacraments of their children. This is diocesan policy. There is absolutely no urgency to hurriedly conclude First Communion or Conformation ceremonies within a short period. They can easily be spread-out over the coming months.
Some parishes are proposing to limit access to sacraments to only one of the parents of a child. While I understand the logic of such a proposal in order to reduce numbers. I feel that it is contrary to the fundamental principle in which parents are the primary educators of their children and to exclude one parent from an important event in the faith life of their child would undermine this fundamental principle. Parents are not just spectators at First Communion and Confirmation. There are natural protagonists in fostering the faith life of their children. I am therefore asking that in all ceremonies of First Communion and Confirmations both parents should by right be enabled to participate.
Archbishop of Dublin