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Temporary Suspension of Public Masses PDF Print E-mail

UPDATE ON COVID19 RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLIC WORSHIP (NI)

24th February 2021

I am writing to update you on the situation regarding the ongoing suspension of public worship in Northern Ireland.

Following the Northern Ireland Executive’s recent decision to extend the current Covid-19 restrictions to April 1st, representatives of the Churches met earlier this week with Ministers from the Executive Office, the Minister of Health, and the Chief Medical Officer. At that meeting the Chief Medical Officer stressed that it would make a significant difference and be of huge benefit to public health and safety, if churches continue, for the time being, not to gather in person for services and other meetings.

The Northern Bishops have discussed the evolving situation.  In the light of the Executive’s extension of the current restrictions, and on the basis of the continued and unequivocal public health message that people should continue to stay at home, the Northern Bishops have agreed that the celebration of the Eucharist and other liturgies should continue, for the time being, to take place without the physical presence of the faithful.  Marriage, funeral, baptismal liturgies, and drive-in services may continue (subject to strict safety guidelines and regulations) with arrangements being made for live-streaming, where possible.

The next NI Executive review of current lockdown provisions will be taking place on Thursday 18th March.  The Northern Bishops have agreed to further assess the situation immediately after that date in the cautious expectation that, from Friday 26thMarch onwards, and in preparation for Holy Week, the faithful may safely gather once more for the celebration of Mass, with all necessary risk assessments having taken place and with all necessary precautions and mitigations in place.

Similar steps are being taken by the Methodist Church, the Church of Ireland, and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. I look forward to providing you with a further update after discussion with the other Northern Bishops following the review by the Executive on 18th March.

Yours Sincerely


Most Rev Eamon Martin

 

 

 

22nd January 2021

Statement by the Northern Catholic Bishops

Re extension of the Covid-19 Shut-down by the Northern Ireland Executive

to 5th March 2021.

Yesterday afternoon the Northern Ireland Executive took the unanimous decision to extend the current Covid-19 restrictions until Friday 5th March 2021. This decision was based on the strong recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Advisor, as a result of the continued extremely high level of transmission of the Covid-19 virus throughout the community (which over these last four weeks had not reduced to the level that had been hoped for), along with the increasing numbers in hospital and intensive care.

In the light of this decision, and on the basis of the clear and unequivocal public health advice that people should continue to stay at home, the Northern Catholic Bishops have decided that, until 5 March (but subject to ongoing review in line with any change to the public health advice), the celebration of the Eucharist and other liturgies should continue to take place without the physical presence of the faithful. Marriage, funeral, baptismal liturgies and drive-in services may continue (subject to strict safety guidelines and regulations). Arrangements for recording and/or livestreaming 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.

We once more make this decision reluctantly, conscious of the pain that not being able to gather for public worship causes for all the faithful, but in the hope that this period of sacrifice is inspired by the command of Jesus to love our neighbours and undertaken for the protection of life and health and for the Common Good. 

We continue to ask for prayers for the sick, the bereaved and all those whose livelihoods have been particularly impacted by the pandemic.  We keep especially in mind all health workers, carers, chaplains and other essential workers.  We welcome the announcement that a similar position is being taken by the leaders of the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland and many other denominations and faith communities in response to the unequivocal message from public health authorities that as many people as possible stay at home at this time.

Most Rev Eamon Martin DD                                              

Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of All-Ireland

Apostolic Administrator of Dromore

  

Most Rev Noel Treanor DD

Bishop of Down and Connor

Most Rev Donal McKeown DD

Bishop of Derry

Most Rev Larry Duffy DD

Bishop of Clogher

Most Rev Michael Router DD

Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh

7th January 2021

FOR ATTENTION OF PARISHES IN NORTHERN IRELAND

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.

alt

Archbishop Eamon Martin

Apostolic Administrator

 

 

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