The Church is stepping up the campaign to put pressure on the Government in the Republic to allow people to attend Mass in a safe and physically-distanced way.
Catholics in the North continue to be allowed to attend Mass and a delegation from the hierarchy met with Taoiseach Micheál Martin last week to put the case for relaxing the ban in the Republic.
Now, Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin has urged Catholics to let members of the Oireachtas know that Mass can resume in a way that is safe and that vulnerable people can continue to join online.
Writing exclusively in The Irish Catholic this week, Archbishop Eamon insists that “parishes have been keeping worshippers safe and promoting the key messages of public health.
“Since returning to Mass and the sacraments in late June, thanks to the efforts of thousands of parish staff, volunteers and cleaners, and careful monitoring by teams on the ground, there has been no evidence that church gatherings in Ireland are contributing to the spread of Covid-19 infection,” he says.
Outlining the proactive steps parishes have taken, Archbishop Eamon points out that “we have limited substantially the numbers attending Mass and taken responsible decisions to modify liturgical actions so that people can gather and participate safely.
“We have suspended the Sunday obligation and encouraged those who are sick or vulnerable not to put themselves at any risk by attending,” he says.
“In making the case for public worship at all stages of lockdown we are not claiming special privilege over other places – like gyms, restaurants or sports. We are simply stating the fact that, for Christians, gathering to worship God is not an optional extra – it is a profound expression of who we are as individual spiritual beings and as Church.
“I encourage all Catholics to make contact with their TDs to remind them that being separated from the sacraments and from the reception of the Eucharist is a painful absence: spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.
“In the midst of winter our country must search for light in the darkness, hope in despair, comfort in sorrow and bereavement. A return to public worship will not only be essential nourishment for Christians and people of all faiths; it will help contribute to the health and well-being of the country during this painful pandemic,” he writes.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have signed an online petition calling on the Government to relax the ban. People wishing to add their voice can do so by going to www.change.org and searching for ‘Lift the ban on public worship in Ireland’.
Read the full piece here.