Friday 13 March 2020

A number of parishioners and priests have sought clarification on a range of questions arising from the updated information released over recent days concerning our response to the current Coronavirus Covid-19 situation in our country.

Our response to this situation must have, at all times, the pastoral care of parishioners and priests through

(1) the measures we take to curtail the spread of the virus and,

(2) offering pastoral support to people through the provision of adequate opportunities for them to participate in the sacramental life of the Church insofar as possible and with due regard to public health.

In view of this, I wish to offer clarification on the following points:

  1. Health Regulations

While there are different health regulations in place on both sides of the border, placing our Diocese in a most difficult position, it is necessary to state clearly that the Diocese of Clogher will have the same regulations on both sides of the border, namely those announced yesterday and in line with the regulations in the Republic of Ireland. This is to ensure that public health measures are adhered to and that the health and safety of people, especially the most vulnerable, is paramount.

These regulations are motivated by a sense of care for the common good and, especially, for the most vulnerable. It is important that we minimize the movement of people (including clergy) and protect them from the virus and its effects.

At the same time, we must reach out as generously as we can to provide the best level possible of pastoral care.

2. Masses

All are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass and Mass on Holy Days of Obligation until further notice.

All are encouraged to participate in Sunday Mass and Mass on weekdays via radio, television or webcams that are in operation in many of our churches. A list of these, together with times of Masses and links to them will be available soon on the Diocesan Website –

Other forms of audio-visual social media may also be used to enable people participate in the Mass.

Having consulted with priests and lay people across the diocese, and mindful of public health and our capability or otherwise to maintain a congregation below 100, I am suspending all public Masses in the Diocese of Clogher with immediate effect.

Masses for weddings and funerals may continue, provided that the Government regulations are adhered to.

All Mass intentions for a given day or days can be incorporated into a Mass that is celebrated live on webcam or radio, or via any other audio-visual form of social media.

Priests are encouraged to celebrate Mass privately and to remember the needs of all their parishioners at this time, especially all those who are vulnerable and who may be infected by the Coronavirus.

Spiritual Communion –

People are reminded of the Catholic tradition of a spiritual communion. When we cannot attend Mass, we can still make an Act of Spiritual Communion, expressing our faith in Christ and in His Presence in the Eucharist, asking Him to unite Himself to us. The basic element of an Act of Spiritual Communion are an Act of Faith; An Act of Love; a desire to receive Christ; and an invitation to Him to come into your heart. Some of the prayers accompanying an Act of Spiritual Communion include

My Jesus

I believe that you are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

I love you above all things, and I desire to receive you into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally,

come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you.

Never permit me to be separated from you.


3. Prayer & Other Devotions:

During these challenging times, it is important that we pray for our families, our communities and our country. Just because public Masses have ceased doesn’t mean that prayer should cease. It is needed now more than ever.

With this in mind, the following is encouraged-

  • Churches should remain opened. (Churches that broadcast a Mass via webcam or radio may remain closed for the period of the Mass if that is deemed necessary).
  • Parishes are encouraged to have prayer moments during each day, if possible. These may include
      • The Prayer of the Church (Morning / Evening Prayer)
      • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
      • The Rosary
      • The Angelus
      • Divine Mercy Chaplet
      • Stations of the Cross
      • Prayerful reflection

Where it is possible, parishes should use webcam and other social media devices to maximise participation in these prayerful moments. However, the Government regulations on gatherings must be observed.

4. Pastoral Care of the Sick

Clergy must always follow the instructions of the health authorities and those in charge of hospital wards and nursing care homes with regard to visiting. Cotton buds and/or sterile gloves must be used for anointing. All care must be without direct physical contact.

Clergy are encouraged to be mindful of self-care at this time.

This is a time when we are deeply conscious of the sick and of the many health workers and carers (including clergy). Let us all pray for them, asking Our Lady of Lourdes to intercede with her Son for them and for all their loved ones.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.


5. Other Gatherings (including Confirmation, First Communion and Holy Week)

  • All Confirmations are postponed until further notice. Be assured, however, that new arrangements will be made as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • First Confessions and First Holy Communions should also be suspended until further notice.
  • All non-essential pastoral gatherings and meetings are cancelled.
  • During our journey through Lent, the celebration of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum is foremost in our minds and hearts. How this will be celebrated will be kept under review over the coming weeks.

+ Larry Duffy,

Bishop of Clogher

13 March 2020



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