Church in Ireland denies plan for lay-led Sunday services

The Catholic Church in Ireland has denied a report in the Irish Catholic newspaper that plans are being drawn up to allow parishes to hold lay-led Sunday services.

But, across the Irish Sea, the archdiocese of Liverpool is preparing to have lay people conduct funeral services and committals at the graveside when no priest is available.

The Irish Catholic report said the Catholic bishops were drawing up “radical new plans” for lay-led Sunday services “as more-and-more communities are set to be left without a priest for the first time”.

But a statement from the Catholic Communications Office said the report was incorrect.

“Rather, over the last number of years, in relation to weekday liturgy when Mass is not celebrated, bishops have been discussing this important issue,” a spokesman said.

“In these discussions there is a distinction between the centrality of the celebration of the Eucharist on a Sunday, and Eucharist celebrated on a weekday,” he said.

The spokesman said bishops were “always concerned to ensure the adequate provision of opportunities for communities to gather for worship, especially in the aftermath of this year’s International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland and [given] the centrality of the Eucharist to the Catholic faith”.

“In the absence of a priest to preside at the celebration of the Mass, the church still gathers to worship God,” he added.

The Irish Catholic article also said that a spokeswoman for Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin had confirmed to the newspaper that the archbishop had not given permission for a nun to lead a Communion service in a County Wicklow parish the previous weekend.

It cited listeners to a RTÉ Radio One programme, who said that parishioners who turned up as usual for Sunday evening Mass in Blessington were led by a religious sister who led a liturgy, preached a homily and distributed Holy Communion “when no priest turned up”.

The newspaper quoted a spokeswoman for Archbishop Martin as saying the incident was “unprecedented” and a “one-off event”.


Irish Times

Irish Catholic

The Tablet

Image: St Senan’s Parish

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