Statements on re-opening Churches for Public Worship

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Statement of Archbishop Martin, Thursday, June 4th 

Preparation for Reopening of places for public worship:  There is a willingness on the part of public authorities to examine the possibility of bringing forward the opening of Churches for public worship into Phase 3 of the Roadmap, which would begin on 29 June.

Naturally, any decision would have to take place closer to that date and would have to take into consideration the overall situation of the virus at that time.

In any case, it is important that we progress the preparation of our Churches so that if possible we are fully ready towards the end of June.

The Irish Bishops will meet on Monday next and will issue clear guidelines for all dioceses.  Each parish should be building up a core group that can monitor preparation. It might be an opportunity to ask young people to volunteer.

It is important that in this situation we should be careful to observe the current norms and show that we will be in a position to implement and respect norms should the timeline change. Jumping the queue can set everyone back.

The advice that is given in other countries is: be ready by the date; if you are not fully ready, wait until you are ready; if it is not possible to apply the guidelines, remain closed.

It may not be possible for all Churches to open and provide the supervision needed.   Initially many people will be fearful of attending indoor gatherings.

Watching televised Masses from other European countries in these days, I realise that Mass with social distancing can be a rather bleak experience, not the joyful celebration that we might desire.  But is an important first stage.







28 May 2020


“I fully appreciate and support the just desire by believers to be able to take part fully in public worship again as soon as possible. The Irish Bishops Conference will shortly publish a detailed document and checklist regarding the steps that each parish must take before the reopening of Churches for public worship.  Each parish will be asked to provide a detailed plan regarding its preparations.  What is involved is more than simple social distancing.

A vital dimension of the fight to address the Coronavirus crisis is public health policy that proposes a sequenced effort to ensure that the reopening of diverse elements of society is properly and safely managed.

The current public health policy has required sacrifice on the part of all of us.  People have accepted that. I think of those who have had to bury a loved one without the normal process of grieving, with funeral rites limited to a bare minimum.  We must show respect for those whose sacrifice has been greatest.

Public health policy will only work when its proposals and sequencing are fully respected by all.  There is no room for self-dispensation from or self-interpretation of the norms.  Jumping the queue by individuals or communities puts everyone at risk. I have reminded all parishes this week that disregard for the norms of public health is something that is unacceptable.

The Dublin parish referred to in media reports in these days has in fact a policy statement on its website stating unambiguously “public attendance at daily or Sunday Mass is not permissible during the current pandemic”.  I am assured that the parish has now returned to that policy.

This Irish Church is working intensely to ensure that the reopening of Churches for public worship will be take place in a manner and at a time that is safe.  I appeal to all Churches in the Archdiocese of Dublin to adhere strictly to public policy, even if it involves patience and personal suffering.    I repeat the words of Pope Francis when Churches in Italy were re-opened for public worship: “but please, let us proceed respecting the norms, the prescriptions we are given to safeguard the health of each individual and the people”. ENDS