Catholic Church responds to concerns about foot and mouth disease
2 March 2001
Following consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Food in the Republic of Ireland and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland, Archbishop Seán Brady, has this afternoon issued the following statement to all members of the Irish Episcopal Conference.
To: Members of the Irish Episcopal Conference
Re: Foot & Mouth Disease
Over the past few days, everyone on the island of Ireland has become acutely aware of the serious threat to the economy posed by the possible spread of Foot & Mouth Disease.
Having consulted with many of you, and having sought advice from the Department of Agriculture and Food in the Republic of Ireland and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland, the following suggestions may be of assistance to you in providing guidelines to your priests and people.
1. Priests and people are urged to carefully note and fully implement the advice, regulations and restrictions issued by the civil authorities at localand governmental level. Attention is drawn to the various helplines and websites which are available both in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland.
2. Parishes, especially those in rural areas, should endeavour to provide disinfectant mats at the entry point to their churches and schools, including entrances to car parks. In addition to being a very practical and necessary measure in the prevention of the spread of the disease, such initiatives will also educate and encourage our people to take similar measures in their own areas of responsibility.
3. Where local clergy consider it prudent and necessary, parish liturgies, meetings and events should be rearranged or cancelled.
4. The cancellation of Sunday Masses is, of course, a matter for each bishop. In areas where an outbreak of the disease has been confirmed or is suspected, and where it is considered essential to cancel Sunday Masses, it should be made clear that parishioners are excused from their “Sunday Obligation” and should not travel to adjoining parishes for Sunday Mass.
5. At this time of crisis, our priests and people are encouraged to express their solidarity with the farming community through prayer and fasting. In particular, we should all pray that our country will be spared from an epidemic of Foot & Mouth Disease.
Most Reverend Seán Brady
Irish Episcopal Conference
2 March 2001
Fr Martin Clarke 087 220 8044
Ms Brenda Drumm 087 233 7797