Following this evening’s broadcast by the Prime Minister and First Minister, Bishop Stephen gave the following update and a message of support:
“We must all ensure from now the complete closure of our churches until further notice. Masses can, and must, continue in private. Where streaming of Mass is possible, well and good, but our places of worship must close for private prayer and for baptisms, confessions and devotions. The suspension of Confirmations and First Holy Communions has already been announced.”
“Funerals can proceed with due care from either the Crematorium or the graveside, but not from the Church. They must be all but private. A private Mass may be offered for the repose of the soul of the deceased around the time of the death with a family requiem Mass offered once the crisis is over. A date cannot be set for this until government clearance is given.”
In referring to end of life and emergency calls, priests will still be required for the administration of the sacrament of the sick and viaticum but Bishop Stephen called on the priests to be very careful and observe all necessary health and hygiene requirements.
“The events we are living through are unprecedented. Each of us is still in shock. We must all keep as safe as possible and not take unnecessary risks to our own health.”
“It goes without saying that personal prayer and our daily private Holy Mass needs to be at the heart of our daily work as priests. Let us pray also for each other and for all of our dear parishioners.”
“We all feel impotent to help our brothers and sisters at this present time; in a sense it feels like our hands are being tied behind our backs. But these measures to ensure social and physical isolation are all necessary to halt the progress of this terrible Coronavirus scourge.”