The Catholic diocese of Clogher is among the first in the country to ban the celebration of the sacraments of marriage and baptism and of funeral Masses as part of the effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The diocese straddles the border and comprises County Monaghan, much of County Fermanagh, as well as parts of Counties Tyrone and Donegal.
In the Diocese of Clogher, funeral Masses will no longer be held, while baptism and marriages will not be celebrated “until further notice.”
For now, the dead will be taken directly to the burial ground and funeral Masses will be held later.
The Rite of Committal or Burial will be led by a priest, deacon or, if necessary, a layperson;
Also, all priests who are aged 70 years or older and those who have underlying health conditions are not expected to take part in frontline pastoral ministry.
Clergy will not attend a wake, if one is held.
Hospital visits will be conducted by full-time trained hospital chaplains and will be subject to the regulation of hospital management.
There will be no house calls, including First Friday calls.
Clergy may call by phone or similar mode of communications and pray with the sick or housebound, which is similar to the guidance given last week by the Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, to priests in his diocese.
The bishop of the Diocese of Clogher, Lawrence Duffy, said he was “saddened to have to take this course of action in his diocese, but in the prevailing circumstances”, he had no other option.
Bishop Duffy said he fully understands the impact of these measures on the life of local parishes and on parishioners.
But, he added that by taking these measures now, “we will ensure that we can return to sacramental life as soon as possible.”