THE ARCHBISHOP of Dublin has questioned the decision to restrict the number of people allowed to attend Mass to just 50 while “large retail outlets [are] brimming with people”.
It comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced places of worship could reopen ahead of schedule from June 29 with the caveat and that indoor gathering must be restricted to a maximum of 50 attendees.
Mr. Varadkar said: “Mass gatherings will be limited to 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors until 20 July. All going well, this will rise to 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors thereafter.”
Despite welcoming the return of church services, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin warned it would mean that in many large parishes less that 1% of a church’s normal congregation were able to attend Mass.
The archbishop also noted that the current limitations would leave room for around 10 families to sit in a service at any one time.
He said: “It seems strange that in a Church with a capacity of 1,500 people which has been scrupulously fitted out for conformity with social distancing and with clear indications about movement and interaction of people within Church, that only 50 people might be present, while we all see a situation in which large retail outlets brimming with people."
He also said that under the current limitations, around 10 families would be able to attend a mass service.
The Archbishop is urging the government to take “a more reasonable and responsible” approach to churches where there is capacity to hold significantly more than 50 people while maintaining social distancing and other public health advice designed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“The numbers would not be very large,” he argued.
“In some cases, it is not just a question of the limitation to 50 people in a large parish Church, but this would effectively mean that only 50 people out of a parish of over 10,000 might be able to attend.”