Pastoral Statement Update re advice on arrangements, in response to the Coronavirus
16th March 2020
The situation with regard to the Coronavirus has substantially changed in the last week, even though the recommendations of the government and the WHO (World Health Organisation) remain the same: that gatherings under 100 people may take place.
Having witnessed the closure in the Republic of Ireland of schools, followed this week by pubs, restaurants and coffee shops, I feel it is now appropriate, with deep regret, to cancel public worship until a further update on 29th March. This would include St Patrick Day services and Mothering Sunday. There is also a risk that people, suffering from cabin fever, would decide on Mothering Sunday to take families to church, which would certainly make numbers difficult to monitor and manage. I understand that some clergy may want to leave churches open for private prayer.
This is never something that a bishop does lightly, and I have received communication on both sides of the argument, as you can imagine. Normally it would be imperative to maintain public worship, but the most important factor in this crisis has become ‘social distancing’. In church, sadly, we cannot guarantee that and we do not wish to put anyone, including clergy, at risk.
Having just buried my father, I am deeply sorry for people for whom funerals are going to be smaller, with perhaps a larger memorial service later in the year. Weddings too will have to be limited to under 100 people and we feel for brides and grooms faced with difficult decisions.
Please exercise care with your own health. Wishing you peace of mind and confidence in the Lord,
+Pat Meath and Kildare
For further public health updates from official sources visit:
Health Service Executive
Department of Health
World Health Organisation