The Bishops’ Decision on Communions and Confirmations will “inevitably” contribute to the spread of Delta

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The co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests has warned that the decision of a number of Catholic bishops to allow first communions and confirmations will “inevitably” help the spread of the Delta variant.

Father Tony Flannery said he was “astonished” that the bishops had given the green light for the ceremonies now, especially since it was “only a matter of five to six weeks before they did. get the green light anyway “.

The outspoken priest added that he was “concerned” that when people in positions of authority, such as bishops, openly go against the advice of health officials and the government, ” it opens up more extreme groups like anti-vaccines and people like that, and it’s very unnecessary. “

Father Tony Flannery pictured at Redemptorist Church in Limerick

Speaking on RTÉ radios Today with Claire Byrne show, Father Flannery pointed out that the bishops may have missed an opportunity to “relocate” preparation for the sacraments from schools to parishes so that the religious ceremony is reserved only for those who “really want it”.

He said that “a great majority” of those who make their First Communion and Confirmation do not have parents who attend church and are not “committed to the faith.”

“The religious aspect of the ceremony does not mean much … it all depends on what happens after” and “the money the young person will receive”.

“The whole business aspect has really gone over the top,” he said, adding that it “lowered” the ceremonies.

Five bishops have now given the green light to pastors to resume First Communion and Confirmation ceremonies, despite the government’s request to delay such events until more people are vaccinated.

The Bishop of Raphoe is the latest church leader to defy the ban, joining the Bishops of Elphin, Clogher, Meath and Waterford and Lismore.

Bishop Kevin Doran was the first to give the green light for the ceremonies
Bishop Kevin Doran was the first to give the green light for the ceremonies

Today, the agriculture minister urged priests to “show leadership” and not violate Covid guidelines regarding communions and confirmations.

Minister Charlie McConalogue said he understood the “frustration” families and church members now feel, however, he said religious ceremonies should not take place because the guidelines are “there for a reason. and it is important that they are followed “.

“While it is frustrating to see these delays, no one will be hurt by waiting a little longer to enjoy it and have this special day. And there is a reality out there that people are still infected with COVID people. are still in the hospital with Covid. “

Minister Charlie McConalogue has said he understands the "frustration" that families and church members now think, however, he said religious ceremonies should not take place as the councils are "there for a reason and it is important that it be followed."
Minister Charlie McConalogue said he understood the “frustration” families and church members now feel, however, he said religious ceremonies should not take place because the guidelines are “there for a reason. and it is important that they are followed “.

Mr McConalogue added: “Like many people in the country, I have very strong memories. I have both fellowship and confirmation myself and this is a very important day in everyone’s life and government knows that too.

“But public health advice is always very clear about caution and about advice regarding communions and confirmations.”

Raphoé priest Father Eamonn Kelly said he was happy to start planning Confirmation and First Communion ceremonies as they do so “under the strictest protocols” and take “every precaution” possible.

“We have canceled these ceremonies for the kids twice already, I think it’s time to move on with them now.”

Asked about the potential for outbreaks at the after-party parties, the Co Donegal priest said he couldn’t control anything that happened afterwards, but “trusted” people.

“And the confidence is strong because when I look at what people have done to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, we see during the blockades that the mileage limit has been respected so well by so many people, and we don’t cannot be dictated by a few who go ahead and break the rules.

Talk to Morning IrelandFather Kelly said it would be September before such ceremonies took place anyway, but they do require “a little planning” and it is only fair to warn people.

However, not all priests are happy to go ahead with the ceremonies.

Yesterday, in the same program, Cork priest Father Tim Hazelwood said plans in some dioceses to go ahead with Confirmation and First Communion ceremonies “put people’s lives in danger” .

He said he believed the Church should continue to follow advice given by public health officials and said he was saddened that the Church was one of the first to oppose it.

“We are supposed to be pro-life. “

“If we are completely honest, the number of people from the First Communion and Confirmation cohorts that come [to mass] every week is very low, ”he added.

“It’s the social aspect.

“And the priests are going to come under fierce pressure because the parents are crazy to have it, they want a day for their children.”

Tipperary’s priest, Father Iggy O’Donovan, said continuing the ceremonies at present “is not worth the risk”.

Talk to Current affairs lunch this morning he said: “For a few weeks it would be a shame if we were seen to compromise or change tactics at the last moment.

On Friday, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he did not approve of any “one-sided violation” of the Covid-19 regulations “no matter what or where it comes from.” “I would say to Church authorities that the only motivation of the government here in terms of the regulations that we have introduced, regarding gatherings and congregations, is to protect the people, is to protect the health of the people.

“And I think it should be accepted in good faith.”

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