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lack of trust Archbishop slams 'deeply frustrating' Government stance on Communions and Confirmations

'The Church has fully supported necessary measures to protect health and welfare,' Dr Farrell said.


Archbishop Dermot Farrell Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Archbishop Dermot Farrell Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Archbishop Dermot Farrell Photo: Dylan Vaughan

The Government’s ‘lack of trust’ in parents to remain responsible for their family’s health after church ceremonies has been “deeply frustrating”, Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell has said.

Archbishop Farrell joined a number of other bishops in recent days in expressing criticism of inconsistencies in public health guidelines that withheld approval for first communion and confirmation ceremonies because of concerns about social gatherings afterwards while, at the same time, relaxing many restrictions on social gatherings in pubs and restaurants.

The archbishop delivered a wide-ranging homily in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral this evening after he was conferred with a pallium from Pope Francis – a vestment worn around the shoulders signifying his new role as archbishop.

Dr Farrell stated: “The Church has fully supported necessary measures to protect health and welfare.

"We have encouraged the faithful to see recent restrictions on public worship a form of self-sacrifice, enabling them to perform a Christian service.

"In the same way, we encourage all those who are eligible to be vaccinated, for their own good and to help to protect others.

“When public worship was again permitted, our parish communities rose to the challenge of welcoming the faithful to celebrate safely and responsibly, with a scrupulous regard to numbers, social distancing and sanitisation.

“In the same way, we urge everyone to be responsible in how they behave outside church, especially by complying with guidelines regarding socialising between households.

“However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that the faithful have reasonable access to ‘the living bread which has come down from heaven’, to the nourishment by Word and Sacrament which not only sustains Christian living, but which brings our faith to life.

“It has been a source of deep frustration to many families, and to parish communities, that for so many months they have been unable to celebrate the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation.

"They have been perplexed, as am I, that of all of the types of events which might give rise to mingling between households, it is uniquely these Sacraments which are prohibited under public guidelines.

“In all other aspects of life, whether family celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries, or fans gathering to watch sporting events, or indeed after weddings and funerals, people are trusted and expected to observe the guidelines on household mixing.

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"Households are permitted to mix, in homes and in restaurants, in ways that take account of the age and vaccination status of those present. I find it difficult to explain, or justify, that it is only parents of children receiving the sacraments who cannot be trusted to observe these guidelines.

“In the light of the Government’s statement yesterday, I have renewed my advice to parishes to postpone the celebration of the sacraments until September. I can understand, however, the frustration and the resentment of those who feel that the public guidelines are unfair and discriminatory,” he said.

He went on to say: “In today’s second reading the Ephesians are called, as followers of Christ, to practice kindness, patience, and forgiveness.

"In that spirit, I look forward to a resumption of the positive engagement between the Churches and the public authorities, based on respect both for the protection of public health, and for the responsible exercise of freedom to worship by those who are drawn to receive ‘the bread of life’.

“Being nourished by the bread of life, bread that is "for the life of the world," is not an end in itself; it is a call to mission.”

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