Catholics in the Republic may be able to begin gathering together to celebrate Mass on June 29, three weeks earlier than the Government’s original roadmap according to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. There is no indication when Masses will be permitted north of the border, but authorities are known to be keen to work in tandem.
The archbishop said that he will meet with other members of the hierarchy on Monday to finalise guidelines that were first revealed in The Irish Catholic last week.
In a statement this evening (Thursday), Dr Martin said that “there is a willingness on the part of public authorities to examine the possibility of bringing forward the opening of churches for public worship into Phase 3 of the roadmap, which would begin on June 29.
“Naturally, any decision would have to take place closer to that date and would have to take into consideration the overall situation of the virus at that time,” he said.
The archbishop urged parishes to “progress the preparation of our churches so that if possible we are fully ready towards the end of June”.
The bishops’ conference will meet on Monday and will issue guidelines.
Dr Martin said that “each parish should be building up a core group that can monitor preparation. It will be an opportunity to ask young people to volunteer”.
Underlining the need for vigilance, he said that “it is important that in this situation we should be careful to observe the current norms and show that we will be in a position to implement and respect norms should the timeline change.
“Jumping the queue can set everyone back,” he said.
“The advice that is given in other countries is: be ready by the date; if you are not fully ready, wait until you are ready; if it is not possible to apply the guidelines, remain closed.
“It may not be possible for all churches to open and provide the necessary supervision needed. Initially, many people will be fearful of attending indoor gatherings.
“Watching televised Masses from other European countries in these days, I realise that Mass with social distancing is not the joyful celebration that we might desire – but it is an important first stage,” he said.