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See it out Priest says decision to allow First Communions and Confirmations to go ahead is an 'error'

Fr Iggy O’Donovan said going ahead with the ceremonies at present is 'not worth the risk'

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Priests wearing face masks pray during Easter Sunday mass led by the Latin Patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (Oded Balilty/AP)

Priests wearing face masks pray during Easter Sunday mass led by the Latin Patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (Oded Balilty/AP)

Priests wearing face masks pray during Easter Sunday mass led by the Latin Patriarch at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (Oded Balilty/AP)

A decision by a number of Catholic bishops to allow First Communions and Confirmations to go ahead has been described  as an “error” by one Tipperary priest. 

Five Bishops have now given the go-ahead to parish priests to resume First Holy Communion and Confirmation ceremonies, despite being asked by the Government to delay such events until more people are vaccinated.

The Bishop of Raphoe is the latest church leader to defy the ban, joining the bishops of Elphin, Clogher, Meath and Waterford and Lismore.

Fr Iggy O’Donovan said going ahead with the ceremonies at present is "not worth the risk."

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning he said: “My own gut feeling is that after all we've been through, that for the sake of a few weeks, I think it would be a pity if we were seen to compromise or back down or change tack at the last moment.

“I think it's not worth the risk. If we see it out and with the vaccination going the way it is and with the young people now getting it, I think that in a few weeks’ time, from many points of view, we would be in a stronger position.

“And if anything were to go wrong at least we could always say that we saw it out to the end.

“I think the bishops in this case are making an error,” he added. “Now, I have no problem with sacraments, in fact it’s part of my job, and we’re all for them, but at the same time it would be foolish to say that people are breaking down church doors to celebrate sacraments. We know very well they are not.

“So in some ways we are dealing with social and not religious events.”

The co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, Fr Tony Flannery said he was “amazed” that bishops had given the go-ahead for ceremonies now, especially as it was “only a matter of five or six weeks before they would be given the go-ahead anyway.”

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Fr Flannery said that bishops may have missed an opportunity to “relocate” the preparation for sacraments from schools to parishes so the religious ceremony would only be for those who “really want it.”

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He said "a large majority" of those making their First Holy Communion and confirmation do not have church-going parents and are not "committed to the faith."

"The religious aspect of the ceremony doesn't mean much... it's all about what happens afterwards" and "the money the young person will get.”

“The whole commercial side to it has gone really over the top,” he said, adding that it “cheapened” the ceremonies.

Minister Charlie McConalogue said he understands the "frustration" that families and members of the church now feel, however, he said the religious ceremonies should not go ahead as the guidance is "there for a reason and it's important that it's followed."

"While it is frustrating to see these delays, no one's going to get hurt by waiting a little bit longer to avail of it and to have that special day,” he said. “And there is a reality out there that people are still becoming infected by Covid people are still going into hospital with Covid."

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