The Archbishop of Dublin has issued a warning after a church – that of the Church of the Guardian Angels in Blackrock – reopened for public Mass despite ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

Full text of the statement of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on the reopening of churches for public worship

(Source: Archdiocese of Dublin)

I fully appreciate and support the just desire by believers to be able to take part fully in public worship again as soon as possible.

The Irish Bishops Conference will shortly publish a detailed document and checklist regarding the steps that each parish must take before the reopening of Churches for public worship. Each parish will be asked to provide a detailed plan regarding its preparations. What is involved is more than simple social distancing.

A vital dimension of the fight to address the Coronavirus crisis is public health policy that proposes a sequenced effort to ensure that the reopening of diverse elements of society is properly and safely managed.

The current public health policy has required sacrifice on the part of all of us. People have accepted that. I think of those who have had to bury a loved one without the normal process of grieving, with funeral rites limited to a bare minimum.

We must show respect for those whose sacrifice has been greatest.

Public health policy will only work when its proposals and sequencing are fully respected by all. There is no room for self-dispensation from or self-interpretation of the norms.

Jumping the queue by individuals or communities puts everyone at risk. I have reminded all parishes this week that disregard for the norms of public health is something that is unacceptable.

The Dublin parish referred to in media reports in these days has in fact a policy statement on its website stating unambiguously “public attendance at daily or Sunday Mass is not permissible during the current pandemic”. I am assured that the parish has now returned to that policy.

This Irish Church is working intensely to ensure that the reopening of Churches for public worship will be take place in a manner and at a time that is safe.

I appeal to all Churches in the Archdiocese of Dublin to adhere strictly to public policy, even if it involves patience and personal suffering.

I repeat the words of Pope Francis when Churches in Italy were re-opened for public worship: “but please, let us proceed respecting the norms, the prescriptions we are given to safeguard the health of each individual and the people”.

On Novena, the latest on the coronavirus and the Church in Ireland:

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.