The Government restriction of no more than 10 people allowed to attend church funeral services is “putting distress on families that’s not necessary”, according to a senior priest.
Msgr John Byrne PP of Portlaoise parish and Vicar General of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin told this paper that although there’s no great time to lose a loved one, “this is a particularly distressing time”.
“Your heart would go out to families. A very high proportion of families, even when you talk about the immediate family, maybe children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, 10 doesn’t come near to covering it.”
Currently as Ireland is in Phase 1 of its roadmap to return to normality as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the funeral restriction is set to continue until Phase 2, starting on June 8.
At that point a slightly larger number of people are allowed to attend funerals but it will still be restricted to “immediate family and close friends and limited to a maximum number of mourners for a limited period of time where social distancing can be maintained” according to the Government document.
Msgr Byrne said he believes allowing 30 to 40 people attend might “cover it”. “Safety first of course is the order of the day, I don’t think anybody would want to jeopardise safety in any way,” he said.
Given the size of many churches, he said the current restriction is not “a reasonable figure for all churches”.
“Families can still maintain social distance and respect all of those rules but be present to each other and be present to go through the requiem.
“There is a fear that if we become anyway blasé or careless that we could undo a lot of the good that has been done and nobody wants that, it’s going to be difficult to plot a way back but I think we’ve got to begin to think of that.
“The immediate issue that perhaps could be relieved somewhat is the restriction to Requiem Mass, I think there maybe isn’t the medical or scientific knowledge behind that decision to justify it continuing. I think emotionally, that will at least lessen the impact of this terrible time.”