The Taoiseach yesterday evening (28 October) met with leaders of the Catholic Church – Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly and Bishop Dermot Farrell.
Discussion focused mainly on the effect which the current Covid-19 restrictions are having on the health and well-being of the faith community and the great desire to return to worship as soon as possible.
The Archbishops emphasised that they are fully supportive of the Public Health messages but highlighted that the coming together in prayer and worship, especially for Mass and the Sacraments, is fundamental to Christian tradition and a source of nourishment for the life and well-being of whole communities. The importance of gathering for worship as a source of consolation and hope at Christmas time was stressed.
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The Archbishops emphasised the mammoth effort that has been made by priests and volunteers at parish level to ensure that gatherings in Church are as safe as possible and the consistent messaging from the Church about the protection of health and life for all in the community, particularly the vulnerable.
The Taoiseach thanked the Archbishops for their support and acknowledged the major role that Religious leaders have in supporting people and giving hope at this time of stress and worry – reaching out to those who may feel isolated or marginalised. It was acknowledged that pastoral work continues at parish level even as the celebration of Mass is moved on-line. The challenges of those suffering bereavement at this time were acknowledged, particularly as we enter the traditional time of remembrance in the month of November.
The Taoiseach outlined the reasoning behind the Government’s plan for living with Covid-19and the need to strike the right balance between all forms of social and economic activity and public health.
The Archbishops emphasised the need to protect the most vulnerable in society at this time. They also acknowledgedthe positive value of keeping our schools open, especially for those who may otherwise be educationally disadvantaged by not having access to technology or the daily support of their teachers.
The need for a shared understanding of the effects of the pandemic as it evolves and to align our response accordingly was recognised. All agreed the importance of ongoing constructive engagement and solidarity in facing and overcoming the challenges of Covid-19 together.