The news outlet Gript.ie is reporting (July 28th) that Ireland’s four archbishops have informed the Irish government that celebration of the sacraments of Baptism, First Eucharist and Confirmation will resume in mid-August 2021 – in apparent defiance of government expectation.
To read that Gript.ie report, click here.
I attended a granddaughter’s First Communion in St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh in early June. Each child sat with her/his family in their own pew. Every 2nd pew was blocked off and all wore masks throughout and only the First Communicant was permitted to take the mask off when approaching the altar. It felt very safe and very reverent. It was quite a small group of children, no more than 15 perhaps and separate from the normal public mass. Afterwards, instead of the usual party for all in the cafe behind the church, families celebrated at home and the following morning young Fr Jamie came into the classroom where the children shared cake and soft drinks and had their own little celebration.
Here in my own cathedral in Armagh masses have been ongoing. Sanitisers are provided at the door, every second pew is cordoned off, and each pew is cleaned down after mass, all wear masks and I could not fault the thoughtfulness and care which goes into ensuring the safety of all those parishioners who wish to be present. All masses are streamed online anyway.
I do understand the frustration of those in other parts of Ireland who have not been able to receive the Eucharist or to meet daily with their fellow worshippers because I understand the importance of that human contact also. What I fear is perhaps a growing ‘on the defensive attitude’ of the institutional church at a time when the institution’s reputation is in tatters over child abuse and the massive cover up. They must tread very carefully if they wish to regain respect and trust.
This is why I strongly believe in a Synodal approach as the only way forward. Honest communication, openness, transparency, equality, fairness, accountability, respect for ALL views, opportunities to voice those views AND a willingness to be open to change!