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Dublin Archbishop forbids priests from privately giving Holy Communion during current lockdown

'In the interest of health and safety priests and parishes ought not to succumb to requests to distribute Holy Communion before or after Mass, in or outside churches,' Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell, said in a recent statement
Mon Mar 8, 2021 - 1:42 pm EST
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Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell Archdiocese of Dublin / YouTube

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DUBLIN, Ireland, March 8, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The new Archbishop of Dublin, Dermot Farrell, has reinforced the government’s current ban on acts of worship, by even forbidding priests in his diocese from privately distributing Holy Communion to parishioners, unless as part of a funeral or wedding. 

In a statement released Thursday March 4, Farrell added the weight of further ecclesiastical prohibition to the already present government prohibits on worship. “In the interest of health and safety priests and parishes ought not to succumb to requests to distribute Holy Communion before or after Mass, in or outside churches,” he declared.

“Drive-in Masses are not permitted as no gatherings of people outdoors or indoors are permitted. Holy Communion can only be distributed in the church to mourners attending a Funeral Mass, to those celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage and to the essential ministers that make celebration of Mass online possible, (e.g., Minister of the Word, Sacristan),” the statement added.

Any arrangements for the reception of First Holy Communion or Confirmation, would have to wait until the Irish Government decreed to diocese that it was “safe” to hold such events.

Farrell also ordered his priests to perform the sacrament of Baptism, “only in exceptional circumstances, that is in danger of death.” 

His decree has been slammed by some Catholic media in the country, with Catholic Arena describing it as a “dispiriting and demoralising statement to his already dwindling flock…a complete surrender.”

Ireland has been in a level 5 lockdown since the start of the new year, and is set to remain under the restrictions until at least April 5, when a review will be conducted. As such, communal worship is forbidden, and places of worship are only allowed to open for private prayer. Funerals are currently allowed to occur, but with just “10 mourners” and weddings are similarly limited to 6 people.  

Worship has been forbidden in Ireland since December 26, 2020, and indeed for much of the previous year since the onset of COVID-19 restrictions. It will only be permitted once the country goes back down to level 2 in its restrictions, which could be months away. 

The Irish Catholic hierarchy has conducted a number of meetings with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin, in an advertised attempt to “dialogue” their way to less restrictions on churches in the future. The most recent meeting took place towards the end of last month, when the four archbishops of Ireland expressed their continued support for the “public health message and to encourage all necessary measures, including vaccination, to protect health and well-being, especially that of the most vulnerable.” The statement noted that the clerics asked the government for permission that public worship could “resume when an easing of restrictions is considered.”

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Despite this public front by the bishops, it was less than two weeks before Farrell re-affirmed the state’s prohibition on acts of worship, ensuring that those in his diocese could not even receive Holy Communion privately. 

Matters came to a head the previous Sunday, when police told a parish in Dublin to stop distributing Holy Communion privately to parishioners, who came after the televised Mass to individually receive Communion. Mountview and Blakestown Parish in Dublin, had been allowing parishioners to come after the online Mass on Sundays, and receive Holy Communion before heading back home without gathering.

Speaking to RTE, Father Binoy Mathew of the parish said that people would enter the church to receive Holy Communion, and exit immediately. Around 130 people were coming over a space of two hours, he added, with hygiene protocols being adhered to.

However, police put a stop to the individual act of piety, telling Fr. Mathew they believed it to be an organized event, and as such, prohibited under the COVID restrictions. 

This event was likely behind Farrell’s recent statement prohibiting such events, as he prefaced his message by noting that questions were raised during recent deanery meetings which had prompted his explicit ban on the private reception of Holy Communion.

Whilst both the state and Archbishop Farrell have banned the private reception of Holy Communion and public worship, people are still allowed to collect take away food and drinks, in the same manner that Holy Communion was being distributed by Fr. Mathew. 

Schools are also in the midst of a staged return of in-person education, with schools for children with learning disabilities at “100% capacity,” from March 1, as well as a number of primary years, and the final year Leaving Certificate students returning to the school buildings.

Despite this, the restrictions on public and now private worship, have been kept in place.

Shortly before assuming his post as Archbishop of Dublin earlier this year, Farrell gave an interview in which he expressed his support for female deacons as well as the blessing of rings for homosexual couples. Whilst Farrell was reticent initially about the idea of “female priests,” saying that the teaching of Church tradition on the topic was a “hurdle that has to be overcome,” Farrell was strongly supportive of female deacons. 

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” Farrell has referred to this as “a technical description.” 

LifeSiteNews contacted the Archdiocese and Farrell’s staff for comment regarding the decision to ban the private distribution of Holy Communion, but received no reply. 

For respectful contact about the need for Catholics to receive Holy Communion: 

Archbishop’s House, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Tel: 01 8373732 / Fax: 01 8369796


  church closures, coronavirus restrictions, covid-19, crisis in the church, dermot farrell, holy communion, ireland, lockdowns

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