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Temporary Suspension of Public Masses PDF Print E-mail

7th January 2021


Dear Father, Dear Deacon, Dear Sisters and Brothers

In recent days we have all become increasingly concerned about the serious public health position and the extremely high level of transmission of the Covid-19 virus.  I have been following closely the continuing escalation of numbers in hospital and in intensive care and sadly, the number of associated deaths.  It is clear that our healthcare staff and other carers are under almost unsustainable pressure. The clear message from health officials is that this situation is going to worsen significantly over the coming weeks.

I am very grateful to all in our parishes who have been working to ensure that our gatherings for public worship are as safe as possible.  At this time, however, I feel it is vital that we all do what we can to support the unequivocal message from public health authorities that the movement and gathering of people should be minimised and that as many people as possible stay at home for the sake of health, life and the Common Good.

In light of ongoing consultations with the NI Executive and with Public Health Authorities, the Northern Bishops have decided that for a limited period (from midnight on Thursday 7th January until Saturday 6th February 2021, subject to review in late January), the celebration of the Eucharist and other liturgies should take place without the physical presence of the faithful - with the exception of marriage, funeral, baptismal liturgies and drive-in services (subject to regulations). 

Arrangements for recording and/or live-streaming and making individual visits for private prayer are also permissible in accordance with regulations. We encourage parishes, where possible, to continue to broadcast the celebration of Mass - and other devotions and prayer services - online and on other media, knowing that faith and prayer can be a tremendous support to individuals and society during these difficult times.

Of course, we make this decision reluctantly, conscious that not being able to gather for public worship can cause pain for all the faithful.  It is our hope that this limited period of sacrifice will be for the protection of life and health and for the greater good of all.

Please continue to pray for the sick, the bereaved and all those whose livelihoods have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Please also keep in your daily prayers all health workers, carers, chaplains and other essential workers.

I ask for your support for this difficult decision and I very much appreciate all you are continuing to do to keep the Gospel message of faith, hope and love alive in our parishes and diocese at this time.


Archbishop Eamon Martin

Apostolic Administrator




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