Selected excerpts from Bishop Treanor’s Statement on the 4th June 2020

Selected excerpts from Bishop Treanor’s Statement on the 4th June 2020

In relation to Requiem Mass and Weddings

On 28th March 2020 the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations, Northern Ireland 2020 came into effect. The regulations and legislation introduced restrictions on individuals’ daily lives and on the pastoral activities of all church bodies.

By way of exception to the restrictions on worship, provision was made for funerals in church, with no more than ten people in attendance, while observing social distancing regulations.

In the Diocese of Down and Connor a decision was made to restrict funerals to the Committal service at the graveside with the possibility of the celebration of a Requiem Mass in the parish, without the presence of the deceased and mourners.

This difficult decision was taken for the benefit of all, in the face of evidence that the Covid-19 could decimate clusters of the population, especially in urban areas.

Since then given; • the gradual and welcome decline in the number of Covid-19 related deaths, • the decrease in the “R” number (the measure of virus transition), • the incremental relaxation of restrictions by the NI Executive. • having sought the views of clergy in a diocesan survey and • having consulted with the Council of Priests,

Funeral Services and Requiem Mass in the presence of the deceased and 10 mourners, whilst observing social distancing regulations, is now permitted across the diocese, as is the distribution of Holy Communion during a Requiem Mass.

Outdoor Weddings

On 4th June 2020 the NI Executive confirmed that from 8th June 2020 outdoor weddings, including religious weddings, may take place with no more than 10 people present and with social distancing observed.

Permission to celebrate marriages, in accordance with canonical and liturgical norms using the Rite of Marriage only (i.e. excluding the celebration of Mass and distribution of Holy Communion) in another suitable place other than a parish church is granted.

Each Parish should identify such a suitable place outdoors where it would offer such ceremonies to be celebrated. In the absence of an appropriate outdoor space around the parish church, an alternative at another local parish could be identified. The outdoor space should always be ‘sacred ground’ – i.e. the grounds of a church or other local religious site.

This extraordinary permission to change from the norm of marriages taking place in a church, will expire when marriages can again be celebrated inside.