“Following today`s announcement by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the public health restrictions due to COVID19 will be eased on 29 June to allow “places of worship to resume services again, with precautions”, I welcome this news and like other priests in Ireland I am greatly looking forward to celebrating public Mass and the sacraments soon with our congregations.
“I wish to commend dioceses and parishes for undertaking preparations to facilitate the safe return of the faithful to public worship in a measured way, and for their reaching out to parishioners in very difficult circumstances during the lockdown which included the broadcasting of Mass and other prayer opportunities by webcam.
“Next week, the bishops of Ireland will meet for the first time over video-call for our Summer General Meeting. We will finalise our framework document for the return to Mass and the sacraments which will offer best practice to parishes as we begin to fully reopen parish life again.
“It is my fervent hope and prayer that parishes in Northern Ireland will also soon be able to gather for public worship in the same way as parishes on the rest of the island.
”During the pandemic we were unable to gather in the normal way for the Eucharist and other sacraments, but we have been alert to God’s presence in the lonely and the suffering. Sadly the pandemic has brought great suffering to many families whose loved ones have died because of the virus. In a lot of cases it was not possible for family members to be by their side, or to be present at their funeral. God knows our grief and how much we need strength, courage, consolation and comfort at this time. As the restrictions ease the Church will continue to assist those in the greatest need.”
· Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
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