The Government has reimposed a 50 person limit on the numbers who can attend public worship, which begins again today, regardless of the size of the church.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had announced Thursday night that churches would be exempted, saying that specific protocols would be worked out to take account of the size of churches and other places of worship.
However, The Irish Catholic reported that the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach Martin Fraser requested a meeting with Church leaders on Friday afternoon. During the course of the meeting, Mr Fraser said that the Chief Medical Office Dr Tony Holohan had reservations about the decision of the Cabinet to give an exemption for places or worship.
He said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) was “strongly against” making the exemption.
The hierarchy was informed that the recommendation remains that no more than 50 people should gather for Mass.
A senior bishop told the Irish Catholic newspaper that there was “frustration bordering on exasperation that the Government seems unable to be on the same page on this issue”.
“Many of our churches can hold more than a thousand people,” he said, “and yet the approach seems to be that we must return again to a limit of 50,” he said.