The government had told Catholic leaders to postpone First Holy Communions and Confirmations earlier this summer.
Gript.ie understands that the four Catholic archbishops of Ireland have written to the government today stating their priests will proceed with Baptisms, First Holy Communions and Confirmations from mid-August.
The news comes after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had unexpectedly said the ceremonies were “off” in late June, despite plans to restart them on July 5th, prompting criticism from Archbishop Eamon Martin that the Fine Gael leader’s remark was “off the cuff” and “very disrespectful”.
Following Varadkar’s comments, the government website was updated to read that “religious ceremonies such as Baptisms, First Holy Communions and Confirmations should not take place at this time. Further advice will follow on resumption of these ceremonies when it is safe to do so.”
The Catholic Church largely abided by the government’s advice until now, with most priests postponing the ceremonies at a parish level, but today’s letter marks a significant shift in attitude among bishops towards the government’s measures.
Archbishop Martin had told RTÉ that there was “a lot of frustration and deep disappointment and indeed anger” following Mr. Varadkar’s announcement of restrictions on the sacraments, and that the Tánaiste’s “manner of communication in this case was grossly disrespectful.”
Martin did concede at the time that the church would be “respectful” of the deferral however, but it now appears that patience has run out among the clergy as children prepare to return to school.
Varadkar for his part dismissed criticism from the church that his comments had been “off the cuff”, telling the Dáil that he was simply responding to a press conference question and that NPHET were under the impression the ceremonies “were not supposed to be taking place anyway.”
Church leaders had previously expressed opposition to a post-Christmas ban on attending Mass, which was eventually lifted on May 10th.