All Catholic confirmation ceremonies have been postponed while baptisms, weddings and funerals will be limited to 100 people in all churches across the country.
The latest guidelines were issued by the Irish Catholic Bishops’’ Conference in response to the Government’’s decision to move to the Delay phase of Covid-19 engagement.
Under the new guidelines, all confirmations have been postponed "until further notice" while all non-essential pastoral gatherings and meetings, such as formation gatherings, retreats and seminars are cancelled.
Attendance at funeral services and masses will be limited to close relatives and must not exceed 100 attendees within the church building. Church weddings and baptisms may be celebrated on condition that the attendance in church does not exceed 100 people.
The conference said that despite the escalating crisis, churches will remain open for prayer every day: "In these difficult and uncertain times, people find strength, consolation and hope in prayer. Churches should remain open for prayer each day."
The conference also said that, in light of the current emergency situation, "all are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass".
The statement read: "Parishes should inform parishioners of the local possibilities to participate in Mass via local radio and online.
"It may be possible for some parishes to facilitate attendance at Mass while still observing the health authority’s limit of 100 people."
- The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
- Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999
The conference said that these restrictions will remain in place until March 29 but warned that it "is likely that these restrictions will continue for some time after that" and instructions regarding the celebration of Holy Week will be issued in due course.
It pointed out that the motivation for the new measures "is a sense of care for the common good and especially for those most vulnerable".
* churchservices.tv or mcnmedia.tv