Restricting public prayer during level 3 was ‘severe’, says bishop

Restricting public prayer during level 3 was ‘severe’, says bishop Bishop Larry Duffy. ©Rory Geary/The Northern Standard

Not being able to go to Mass is a “great disappointment” to the Faithful and when Ireland was in level 3 it was a “severe” restriction, according to the Bishop of Clogher.

Commenting on the letter sent to the Taoiseach signed by Ireland’s four archbishops on October 9 regarding allowing people return to public worship during level 3, Bishop Larry Duffy said the Covid-19 situation has changed since then.

“Even since that was mentioned we seem to have gone into a darker place in terms of numbers. I suppose the issue would be the closing of churches is at level 3 in the southern arrangement, that’s probably a bit severe, if it was level 4 or 5 I think it might make more sense,” Bishop Duffy said.

“I would feel that the Church has done very well in terms of protecting people’s health when they have been open, I’m not aware of too many catching the virus because of being at church. I would feel that being in level 3 is too early, if it was in level 4 or 5 it would probably be more appropriate.”

Regarding attending Mass in person, he said: “So many people appreciate Mass, being able to go to Sunday Mass, being able to go to church and to celebrate their faith and to gather as a community to do that.

“The loss of that for any reason is going to be felt and disappointment is part of the reaction to that.”


Being the bishop of a diocese that straddles the border and since public Masses are still permitted in the North under their restrictions, Bishop Duffy explained a whole-island approach would make things “easier”.

“We have two different health groups doing their best to make decisions, it would be nice and it would be good if we had one set of rules for the whole island, it would certainly be easier in some of our parishes which are across border but we respect the rights of the people who are elected to power to make these important decisions – and in truth I don’t envy them having to do that,” he said.