The Diocese of Down and Connor has announced that funeral Masses will now resume having been suspended since March due to Covid-19 measures. It will be welcomed by many grieving families who acutely felt the pain of not having a funeral.
It was one of only two dioceses where funeral services and requiem Masses were not allowed, and Bishop Noel Treanor announced today (Thursday) that restrictions will be lifted immediately.
There is no doubt that the greatest cross has been carried by those who have lost loved ones over these past few months as they have been unable to observe the rites and rituals associated with mourning that are so much part of our faith and culture,” he said in a statement.
“Conscious of the huge sacrifice many families have experienced and heroically made since the introduction of restrictions, we continue to hold them and their deceased loved ones in prayer,” he said.
Dr Treanor added that “with immediate effect, funeral services or Requiem Masses will now be resumed across the Diocese of Down and Connor, while observing the limits on the numbers attending to ten mourners and observing social distancing regulations”.
He insisted that the aim of the initial restrictions “was to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, to save lives and to enable us all to protect each other”.
He said that “with the gradual and welcome decline in the number of Covid-19 related deaths, reduced levels of viral transmission within the community, having consulted widely with diocesan clergy and with the appropriate sanitary measures provided for within our churches, I have determined that it is the appropriate time to reintroduce the practice of funeral services and requiem Masses across the Diocese of Down and Connor”.
He said that he hopes the time will soon come “when we will be able to honour and pray for all who have died and were laid to rest without the full participation of those who have shouldered the pain of grief and loss in such unprecedented circumstances”.
Meanwhile, noting that the northern Executive will permit the extension of exceptional provisions for marriage to include outdoor venues with small numbers and with social distancing measures in place, Bishop Treanor said that “the Diocese of Down and Connor has considered how it may facilitate the Sacrament of Marriage within the current legislative framework and in accordance with sacramental practice and Church norms.
“The diocese will circulate guidance and directives to parishes,” he said.
He also paid tribute to the people who have made huge sacrifices during the pandemic. “With a strong sense of duty, community responsibility and, above all, care for each other, many people have exercised personal responsibility in willingly limiting their freedom to protect their families, themselves and wider society. In protecting those around us, we protect ourselves and those we love,” Dr Treanor said.