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ceremony restrictions Dublin Archbishop gives green light to Communions and Confirmations, says ban 'discriminatory'

In his letter, Archbishop Dermot Farrell asks parishes that decide to recommence Communions and Confirmations to hold shorter, simpler and smaller ceremonies

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Two girls on the walk - First Communion

Two girls on the walk - First Communion

Two girls on the walk - First Communion

The leader of the largest Catholic diocese in the country has written to his priests indicating they can proceed with holding Communions and Confirmations and noting that the current ban is seen by many as “discriminatory”.

In his letter, Archbishop Dermot Farrell asks parishes that decide to recommence Communions and Confirmations to hold shorter, simpler and smaller ceremonies.

Some parishes in the Dublin diocese, which has over one million Catholics, have continued despite the ban to allow small numbers to receive their First Holy Communion in the course of regular weekday and Sunday masses.

Dr Farrell reveals in his letter that he and the country’s three other Catholic archbishops wrote to the Taoiseach last week and indicated that the celebration of the sacraments may resume in some parishes from mid-August.

They said this move was “having regard to the transformed context brought about by the successful vaccination programme, the relaxation of restrictions in many areas of life, and the proven record of parishes in conducting liturgies with great care for safety”.

Criticising the lack of any response from the Government, Dr Farrell says: “It is a matter of profound regret that there has been no engagement with Church representatives regarding revision of public health guidelines.”

Acknowledging that State restrictions on public worship are justified for grave reasons of public health, he underlines that this should only be “for as long as this is prudently necessary, and in a balanced and proportionate fashion”.

In his letter, he writes: “Understandably, many have been concerned and disappointed that current guidelines restrict celebrations of the sacraments on the apparent grounds that they may lead to family gatherings, which may breach public health guidelines on household mixing.

“This is perplexing, as no such prohibitions are applied to other events, such as sporting of civic events, or other family occasions, such as the celebration of birthdays and anniversaries, or indeed to weddings or funerals.

“Many have concluded that, in the absence of appropriate justification, these guidelines are discriminatory.”

On April 30 last, Archbishop Farrell wrote to parishes in Dublin and asked that the celebration of the sacraments be deferred until the autumn with priority given to children who had had their Communions and Confirmations deferred from 2020.

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“I believe the guidance that I issued on 30th April still remains appropriate,” he states in his letter dated August 3, but he indicates that he won’t stand in the way of parishes considering holding such celebrations following consultation with the parish council and the families concerned.

For those who intend to recommence holding the sacraments, he tells them: “It is important that the public health advice and protocols regarding public worship are strictly complied with, not least with regard to gatherings in the church grounds both before and after ceremonies.”

He also asks priests to ensure that families are aware of the public health guidelines regarding household mixing.

The Bishop of Killaloe has also indicated that parishes there can recommence Communions and Confirmations too.

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