Statement of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin – Saturday 20 June 2020

20 Jun 2020

Over the past few weeks, parishes have placed a huge investment, both in energy and financial resources, into preparing our Churches to be ready for the reopening of public worship on 29 June.

Our people have shown great patience in scrupulously respecting the restrictions on attendance at public worship.  Priests and parishes have shown creativity in reaching out by online means of transmitting Mass and providing spiritual nourishment and prayer.   Our people have equally been looking forward to being able to join fully in congregational worship. This is something that is very important for their spiritual life and personal wellbeing and it is indeed effectively their right.

It is obviously disappointing that with the reopening for public worship there is a blanket restriction to the participation of a maximum of 50 in these first weeks.  You will know that I have already expressed my view that in this initial period we should be patient and to allow the new situation to settle down. I feel that this is wise and I believe that many of our Massgoers will themselves be cautious in attending larger gatherings of people.

However, it seems strange that in a Church with a capacity of 1,500 people which has been scrupulously fitted out for conformity with social distancing and with clear indications about movement and interaction of people within Church, that only 50 people might be present, while we all see a situation in which large retail outlets brimming with people.

I hope that it will be possible to come to a more reasonable and responsible situation in which numbers permitted to attend Mass could be proportionate to the size of each Church.  The numbers would not be very large.   In some cases, it is not just a question of the limitation to 50 people in a large parish Church, but this would effectively mean that only 50 people out of a parish of over 10,000 might be able to attend.

For the moment, we are obliged to follow the public health norms. It may be possible to hold additional Masses on Sundays and to continue normally with weekday Masses where numbers are not normally large.

In preparing for Confirmation in this interim period, it is important to ensure that for the moment only 50 people should be present in Churches, even if this means limiting the number of candidates to probably no more than ten families.”

Further Information: Annette O Donnell, Director of Communications, Archdiocese of Dublin, 01 8360723.