The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has spoken about the path to a full resumption of public worship in Ireland.
He said that “there is a longing by believers to be able to return to public worship and towards building up Christian communities.”
Beyond the virtual
Praising the work done by parishes during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Archbishop also noted that there was a need to “move beyond the virtual”.
“As Christians,” he said, “we suffer through not being able to celebrate our faith through public worship.”
He also emphasized that this “void” is especially experienced by priests.
“Priests share in the anxiousness of all believers and in addition, they find themselves unable to carry out to the full what is most essential in their calling… As Archbishop, I experience that void in a deep way.”
Getting ready for return to Public Worship
During the weeks of lockdown in Dublin and around the country, churches have remained open for private prayer, funerals, baptisms, and weddings, with limited numbers.
The Archbishop of Dublin stressed that over these past weeks, parishes all over Ireland “have begun working on plans to be ready to open their churches as soon as it is safe to do so.”
He also noted that the Standing Committee of the Irish Bishops Conference has now moved towards producing a document, with checklists to enable parishes to monitor where they are on the path forward.
From the beginning of this pandemic, the Irish Government’s Roadmap has stated that it will be constantly evaluating progress in reopening society.
Therefore, it is important, said Archbishop Martin, “that we as Church are ready to respond to any change in the currently proposed timescale.”
Respect for public health measures
“We have to examine how our desires can be measured within the overall public health situation. It is not that we place public health measures above our spiritual mission.”
Reminding parishes of the words of Pope Francis when he welcomed the opening of Churches in Italy, the Archbishop quoted, ‘but please, let us proceed respecting the norms, the prescriptions we are given to safeguard the health of each individual and the people’.