By Vatican News
The statement from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference was published on Thursday, hours after the Irish Government said that all schools in Ireland should close and that indoor gatherings of more than 100 people should not take place due to the need to contain the coronavirus.
Serving the common good
“As people of faith we are called to face the fears of this moment with a courage not our own and with a generous heart”, write the Bishops. They call on all Christians to “serve the common good by taking responsibility for each other, and to prioritize the most vulnerable in our community ahead of our own individual wants and aspirations”.
In their statement, the Bishops stress how “at this time, our first concern has to be for the elderly, the ill, and those with underlying medical conditions”.
The statement presents a series of pastoral directions given “in the light of current public health authority advice in Ireland, north and south”, write the Bishops. These directions include limiting the size of congregations to fewer than 100 people, and dispensing Irish Catholics from the obligation “to physically attend Sunday Mass”.
However, parishes should inform parishioners of the possibilities “to participate in Mass via local radio and online”, continues the statement.
Opportunity for prayer
While acknowledging that the directives will involve sacrifice for all, the Bishops encourage “a positive engagement in order that the most vulnerable amongst us can be protected, and so that the coronavirus can be contained”.
Finally, the Bishops suggest praying “for those at the frontlines – especially doctors, nurses, medical staff and other carers, including clergy – that the Lord will protect them as they place their own wellbeing at risk in the service of all”.