Most Recent Directive From Archbishop Diarmuid Martin RE: Coronavirus & Religious Services

Dear Father,

Please read carefully the advice (below) issued this afternoon Thursday 12 March by the Irish Bishops. 

Whereas I realise that many of these restrictive measures will make pastoral life more difficult, we have to remember that as a society we have a duty of care to protect ourselves and above all to protect others.

All Confirmations are postponed until further notice.  This applies with immediate effect.

Are Masses cancelled?   Not absolutely.  Where normal attendance on Sundays or Weekdays is less than 100, there is no reason not to hold public Mass.  Mass with limited congregations can be celebrated to permit participation by web-cam.  Pope Francis does this himself every morning. Attention can be drawn for those who cannot attend Mass to the traditional practice of Spiritual Communion. 

In the current emergency, all are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass.

Funerals: Funeral Masses can be celebrated but limited to close relatives or friends with at most 100 people inside the Church.  Larger gatherings of up to 500 could take place outside after Mass or at a graveyard.

Similarly Church Weddings and Baptisms can take place on condition that attendance does not exceed 100 people inside the Church.

Within Churches it is necessary that people observe a distance of at least one metre from each other.  This is because one of the easiest ways in which the virus is transmitted is through close contact.

It is not permitted to pass baskets or collection bags from person to person.  Arrangements must be made for closely monitored collection points at entrances to Churches, with distinction between the first and second collections.  There is also an on-line payment facility for the Common Fund and Share collections on the front page of the diocesan website.  Click on “Donate”.

The situation of isolation that many will feel with the current restrictions challenges the Christian community to be attentive to and remember those in our communities who live alone and especially families carrying extra burdens.

I am well aware of the burdens and uncertainty that this complex situation places on priests. We will experience a workload that is uncharted.   We must pray for each other, support one another and remain hopeful and be a focal point to provide hope for others.  Our Churches can remain open and offer consolation and comfort to us all. 

Over the next days, up-dated information will be made available on the diocesan website.

Yours very sincerely 

+Diarmuid Martin

Archbishop of Dublin



Further advice of the Irish Bishops in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus

The following instructions take into consideration the new norms issued by the Irish government to be in force at 18.00 today. Bishops are asked to promulgate these instructions in their diocese as soon as possible. 

These instructions complement the advice issued yesterday by the Irish Episcopal Conference and remain in place until 29th March.   It is likely that these restrictions will continue for some time after that, and instructions regarding the celebration of Holy Week will be issued in due course. 

The motivation for these new restrictive measures is a sense of care for the common good and especially for those most vulnerable.  Each Christian community should be acutely aware of the responsibility to care for those who are most at risk.  For example, even where it may not be appropriate to visit the elderly, a simple telephone call to enquire about their needs could mean so much to them.


All non-essential pastoral gatherings and meetings, such as formation gatherings, retreats and seminars are cancelled. 

All Confirmations are postponed until further notice.

Every Catholic is entitled to a dignified Christian burial.  Attendance at Funeral services and Masses should be limited to close relatives and must not exceed 100 attendees within the Church building.  

Similarly, Church weddings and baptisms may be celebrated on condition that the attendance in Church does not exceed 100 people. 

In these difficult and uncertain times, people find strength, consolation and hope in prayer.   Churches should remain open for prayer each day. 

In the current emergency situation, all are dispensed from the obligation to physically attend Sunday Mass. Parishes should inform parishioners of the local possibilities to participate in Mass via local radio and on line.  It may be possible for some parishes to facilitate attendance at Mass while still observing the health authority’s limit of 100 people.

This is an occasion for all of us – especially in families -to pray more intensely for each other and especially for those who have succumbed to the illness. We should pray also for those in the frontlines – especially doctors, nurses and medical staff and other carers, including clergy – that the Lord will protect them as they place their own wellbeing at risk in the service of all.



14th March 2020

The restrictive measures introduced by the health care authorities are vital measures to limit spread of the coronavirus.  We all have a moral responsibility and a civic duty to respect them in detail in order to protect us and others. 

1.    The health authority’s norms on limiting attendance at indoor gatherings to 100 people and the norms regarding social distancing are strictly binding on all.  No individual or parish has the authority to deviate from or redefine these norms. If there is any doubt or risk about arrangements, Mass should be cancelled. 

2.    All are dispensed from the obligation of physical presence at Sunday Mass.  It should be explained to vulnerable people why they are to be discouraged from attending Mass.. 

3.    Parishes should make adequate arrangements to enable people to prayerfully participate at Sunday Mass by radio and on-line.

4.    Social distancing: For any event, including funerals, the norms regarding social distancing (people should be at a distance from each other of at least one metre) are obligatory.  This is a vital health care norm as the virus can be most easily contracted by person to person contact.  It applies also to the presence of people in Churches for private prayer.

5.    I am aware that this involves considerable inconvenience.  It is inspiring to see just how meticulously Pope Francis practices and applies these norms.

6.    Should the current norms not be scrupulously observed, norms that are more restrictive will be introduced.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin