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Ireland’s Church and Government are at odds; Elphin diocese bishop plans to violate public health guidelines

DUBLIN: Taoiseach Micheál Martin has criticised the Catholic bishop’s decision to violate public health guidelines. The rift between the church and the government was sparked by the Bishop of Elphin Diocese’s announcement that he plans to hold Communions and Confirmations in the coming days.

Writing in an online media, Bishop Kevin Doran said the decision to hold the ceremonies was made in consultation with the senior priests of his diocese. The bishop argues that guidance on religious services is “advice by Government rather than regulation”. “The mission of the Church cannot be put on hold indefinitely,” Bishop Doran said.

The Diocese of Elphin includes parts of Sligo, Roscommon, Galway and Westmeath. Priests in the diocese are reportedly preparing to resume religious services following the Bishop Doran’s announcement. The bishop also advised families to observe public health guidelines when celebrating communions and confirmations.

Taoiseach slammed church’s stance

The Taoiseach stated that he will not tolerate “any unilateral breaching of regulations no matter what quarter they come from”.

During a North South Ministerial Council meeting, the Taoiseach said: “I’d say to the church authorities that the Government’s only motivation here in terms of the regulations we have brought in, in respect of gatherings and congregations, is to protect people and to protect people’s health. That is our only motivation and I think that should be accepted in good faith.

“We are significantly ahead of the EU average in terms of the uptake of vaccinations and all the age cohorts. We understand fully the difficulties and disruption this has caused normal society including in terms of the normal conduct of religious service, we understand that fully. But it’s all done with one purpose to protect public health and to protect our citizens.”

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