Issued by the Government Press Office – 20 February 2021
Bilateral Meeting between Taoiseach and Catholic Church leaders
The Taoiseach, yesterday, met with representatives of the Catholic Church – Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop Dermot Farrell, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly and Archbishop Michael Neary – to discuss the current level of Covid-19 restrictions and the Church’s desire to return to worship, in particular during the season of Lent and with the approach of Holy Week and Easter.
The Archbishops requested the meeting as part of ongoing constructive dialogue regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions on public worship.
Recognising the huge challenges which the pandemic poses, the Archbishops emphasised that they wish to continue supporting the public health message and to encourage all necessary measures, including vaccination, to protect health and well-being, especially that of the most vulnerable.
They shared their concern that life at present is particularly stressful and difficult for people to endure, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Recognising the spiritual comfort and hope that participation in public worship brings, the Archbishops asked that public worship resume when an easing of restrictions is considered. They expressed a strong desire that people might gather safely this year for the important ceremonies of Holy Week and Easter. They also requested consideration of an increase in the number of the bereaved who may attend funeral Masses.
The Taoiseach thanked the Archbishops for their support and acknowledged the importance of the Church community in people’s lives at this time of stress and worry. He outlined the ongoing concerns regarding the spread of the virus, particularly the new variants, stressing that any increase at all in mobility can have serious consequences for public health and put pressure on the health service.
In concluding, he said the concerns raised at the meeting would be given consideration. It was agreed to maintain dialogue as the situation evolves.