Bishop of Meath Tom Deenihan sharply criticized the government for its decision to cancel Confirmations and First Communions.
In a strongly worded statement, Bishop Deenihan said the decision caused great confusion and disappointment among parents and children.
In his statement he said: âThe decision was, according to the Tanaiste, based on the recommendation of NPHET. However, newspapers report that Dr Tony Houlihan informed Dail Eireann members yesterday that he never asked for confirmations and first communions to be postponed. This added to the feeling of confusion and anger among the callers to the diocesan office.
âThis Government decision is a source of great disappointment for the young people who are preparing and impatiently awaiting the various ceremonies. It is also a source of disappointment for their parents, teachers and clergy who participated in their preparation for an important time in their faith. The proximity of the cancellation to the ceremony itself, which was based on previous government advice, means parents have days off scheduled and other expenses have been incurred.
âIt is quite surprising that while government officials have indicated that churches are safe, their concern is what happens next with regard to domestic and other contexts. I am convinced that at this point parents know what is safe, will not want to put their families in danger and should be trustworthy about what is going on in their own home.
âThe Church is in a difficult position in this regard. While there is a temptation to ignore the government over religious worship and the celebration of the sacraments, and many have encouraged such a course of action, it would also worry some parents and politicize the sacraments, which I believe should be avoided at all costs.
âOnce again, despite a schedule designed for confirmation in the diocese, I find myself in the disturbing and regrettable position of having to cancel.
âIt is a political decision that was taken without consultation with Church authorities. I remain troubled that a government or a government minister can cancel the celebration of religious worship or the sacraments while at the same time saying, at the same time, that what is happening in a church is It goes to the heart of freedom of worship.
âAll religious authorities have worked hard to make sure everything that happens in places of worship is safe. The parishes of this diocese, thanks to the voluntary work of the parishioners, have responded with generosity, courage and at a certain price to ensure that all the ceremonies take place in accordance with security measures for the protection of public health.
“It is the right, necessary and prudent thing to do. It is unreasonable to prohibit the sacraments for everyone on the basis of what might happen in some cases thereafter. No such measures have been applied in no other sector of society. Other places have either closed or may open depending on what is happening in those places. The Church seeks no more and no less.
âMany people have contacted this office and the various parishes to express their concern and seek information. In light of Dr. Houlihan’s clarification, I suggest that these appeals be directed to the politicians who made this decision. assured that the important sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation will be celebrated as soon as possible in the diocese The celebration of baptism will take place in this diocese subject to the pastoral judgment of the local clergy, a minimum number and health precautions public. ”