- “We must safeguard people’s health AND support their spiritual wellbeing.” – Bishop Cullinan
I must speak out to represent the voices of a very large cohort of people who are growing increasingly weary of being unable to attend Mass and whose spiritual and mental wellbeing is being eroded. Their patience is wearing thin. They are frustrated and feel unrepresented and discriminated against.
When I celebrate Mass each Sunday in the Cathedral I do so behind closed doors. I am very conscious of those faithful barred from attending and yet within a few steps of our Cathedral, people can go to shops for essential things – to their pharmacy to get medicine, to their supermarket to get food and even to a café for an out-door coffee. Yet they cannot receive Holy Communion in their church which is spacious and can accommodate dozens of people safely.
It is very difficult to explain to people why they are banned from public worship bearing in mind also that Ireland is one of the tiny few countries in Europe where public worship is not allowed.
Across the country, priests and parish volunteers have been very diligent in ensuring that our churches are sanitized and safe. I do not believe that it is an either/or situation. It is not that we must stop public worship to safeguard physical health. We can do both. We must safeguard people’s health AND support their spiritual wellbeing.
I feel that the spiritual well-being of our people has not been given any serious attention by the authorities. To say that ‘services go online’ is very hard to take and feels dismissive.
I sympathise with the governmental authorities at this very difficult time, but appeal to them to take into consideration the spiritual care of hundreds of thousands of Catholics and many people of other faiths who wish to exercise their rights as guaranteed by our constitution.
- Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan is Bishop of Waterford & Lismore.
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