It's difficult to comprehend how some 60 miles up the road into Northern Ireland people of the various churches are free to worship albeit in restricted numbers, whereas we in the south are forbidden to admit anybody for masses or services, with the exception of 10 attendees for funerals and just 6 for weddings. In fact, we are the only country in Europe where the churches are in total lockdown. To add insult to injury our political masters have introduced by stealth, a law which makes attendance outside of the exceptions mentioned, a criminal offence. Specifically, it is an offence for a priest to say Mass with members of the public in attendance, and both he and the attendees are liable to prosecution. Given the practice of the other member states of the EU and particularly that in Northern Ireland, it seems hard to justify the tough line being taken by our authorities.
Before we returned to Level 5 our parishes had in place a rota of volunteers who acted as stewards and sanitizers to ensure the safety of those attending. The measures in place proved highly effective and I think I'm right in stating that there were no known clusters of cases connected with places of worship.
We are all conscious of the dangers of Covid-19 and we share the grief of those who have lost family and friends this past year, and of course the medical experts must be our main guides in combatting this pandemic; but why should Ireland be different to every country in Europe with our churches closed to believers? And why was it necessary to criminalise breaches with new Penal Laws? We have been patiently compliant for the past 12 months in the spirit of solidarity that has seen a steady decrease in the level of positive cases, but the life of our faith community is being severely affected. Perhaps it's time to raise our voices to our politicians and at least place the possibilities on the agenda for discussion? If 60 miles away people can attend church without jeopardising the public health surely this can be possible in the republic?
A word to parents ....
We have had an increased volume of enquiries in recent days regarding First Holy Communions, Confirmations and Baptisms. The Archbishop has asked us not to set dates for the Sacraments until it becomes clear when restrictions will be eased to a level that makes these celebrations possible. When we have clarity on permitted numbers we will go into overdrive and do whatever is necessary to ensure that our young people can have fitting celebrations as soon as is possible. Keep an eye on the website for updates.
St. Mary's Lucan