Wednesday, March 03, 2021

The Bishops of the six dioceses of the province of the Archdiocese of Tuam are calling on the government to increase the number of people currently allowed to attend funerals.

The Bishops believe the number could be increased from the 10 at present to 25. They made their appeal in a Pastoral Message today.

We recognise the need for prudence and caution at the present time, in the light of the terrible loss of life in January and February, and we accept absolutely that now is not the time for a major reopening of society, said the Bishops.

However, they said there are elements of the Government’s five-stage plan, “Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead”, that they find “very difficult to support.”

“One of those is the fact that at level 5, all funerals are still limited to 10 people. We believe that a modest increase to 25 would, without compromising safety, bring much consolation to grieving families.

Our second concern is that public worship is still excluded even at level 3. This would suggest that we may not have the opportunity to celebrate Mass together for months to come. The fundamental importance of Holy Week and Easter for all Christians, makes the prohibition of public worship particularly painful. While, as Christians, we are obliged to obey these regulations, we believe that it is our responsibility as Church leaders to make the case for change. We will continue to make fair and reasonable representation and we encourage you to do likewise.”

Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary.

They have also decided to defer the Sacrament of Confirmation for the 2021 class until the Autumn, and encourage their parishes to consider doing the same in relation to First Holy Communion.

The statement was signed by Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary, as well as the five bishops of the Tuam province: Dr Brendan Kelly, Bishop of Galway; Dr John Fleming, Bishop of Killala; Dr Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin; Dr Michael Duignan, Bishop of Clonfert; Dr Paul Dempsey, Bishop of Achonry.

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