4 June 2020 Statement from Bishop Noel Treanor regarding Funeral Services, Requiem Masses and Wedding Ceremonies
Statement from Bishop Noel Treanor
4th June 2020
On the 25th March 2020, I
issued a pastoral letter outlining measures to be taken in response to
Covid-19. These measures, which included the closing of churches, restricted
the celebration of funerals and limited the pastoral services of the diocese,
have been acutely experienced by
The aim of those measures was to help
prevent the spread of the coronavirus, to save lives and to enable us all to
protect each other.
Reintroduction of Funeral services and
is no doubt that the greatest cross has been carried by those who have lost loved
ones over these past few months as they have been unable to observe the rites
and rituals associated with mourning that are so much part of our faith and
culture. Conscious of the huge sacrifice many families have experienced and
heroically made since the introduction of restrictions, we continue to hold
them and their deceased loved ones in prayer.
On 28th March, the NI
Executive enacted legislation which introduced restrictions on individuals’
daily lives and on the pastoral activities of all church bodies. Exceptional
provision was made in legislation for the celebration of funerals within
churches with no more than ten persons present.
Having consulted widely, it was decided
that the most prudent practice for the safety of all was to maintain the
restrictions already placed upon the celebration of funerals within this
Diocese. I resolved at the time to reintroduce the practice of Funeral services
and Requiem Masses within churches when it could be deemed appropriate to do
Now, with the gradual and welcome
decline in the number of Covid-19 related deaths, reduced levels of viral transmission within
the community, having consulted widely with diocesan clergy and with the
appropriate sanitary measures provided for within our churches, I have determined
that it is the appropriate time to reintroduce the practice of Funeral services
and Requiem Masses across the Diocese of Down and Connor.
immediate effect, Funeral services or Requiem Masses will now be resumed across
the Diocese of Down and Connor, while observing the limits on the numbers
attending to 10 mourners and observing social distancing regulations.
reintroducing Funeral services and Requiem Masses across the diocese, it is
also necessary to safeguard the health and wellbeing of clergy, especially
those who are shielding and those who need to self-isolate. This might require that the Funeral service or
Requiem Mass to be celebrated within a neighbouring parish other than that of
that, in the near future, the time will come when we will be able to honour and
pray for all who have died and were laid to rest without the full participation
of those who have shouldered the pain of grief and loss in such unprecedented
for Church Wedding Ceremonies
Monday 8th June, the NI Executive has further extended the
exceptional provisions for marriage to include outdoor venues with small
numbers and with social distancing measures in place.
couples, who had been planning their weddings, have had to postpone the
celebration of their Marriage, unable to gather and commit their lives together
in the presence of families, friends and the Church community.
of Down and Connor has considered how it may facilitate the Sacrament of
Marriage within the current legislative framework and in accordance with
sacramental practice and Church norms. The diocese will circulate guidance and
directives to parishes.
Personal and Community Responsibility
tentative steps taken recently on the pathway to recovery have been achieved by
the sacrifice of all in the common pursuit of health and safety. With a strong sense of duty, community
responsibility and, above all, care for each other, many people have exercised
personal responsibility in willingly limiting their freedom to protect their
families, themselves and wider society. In protecting those around us, we
protect ourselves and those we love.
For the continuing good of all we must continue to remain clear sighted
and vigilant to the real and present threat of the coronavirus.
interests of public safety, may we all continue to follow the public health
advice and guidance and maintain social distancing at all times. The
responsible exercise of our personal freedom in the choices we make in the
weeks and months ahead is vital for our own health and for the health of our
families, neighbours and friends.
continue to pray for those in positions of leadership that they may be inspired
in making mature, measured and discerning decisions as they try to balance a
desire to return to a new normality whilst maintaining and ensuring a capacity
to respond to the current pandemic which remains a threat, especially to the
most vulnerable within the community.