On behalf of Pope Francis, during Vigil Mass on 7 August in Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in the Archdiocese of Dublin, His Excellency Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, conferred the Pallium on Archbishop Dermot Farrell as Metropolitan of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Farrell was the principal celebrant and homilist for this Mass. The Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Okolo and Bishop Denis Nulty representing the Suffragan Sees of Kildare & Leighlin and Ossory.
At the outset of his homily Archbishop Farrell said, “The pallium — which is conferred at this Mass — is a sign of the communion which exists between a metropolitan church, as embodied in its bishop, and the chair of Peter. By the simple yet solemn act of placing the pallium on my shoulders, you Archbishop Okolo, have demonstrated the singular and important service you offer to the Church as a representative of the Holy Father, Pope Francis. The pallium is a sign of the bond we in Dublin share with the successor of Peter; by your presence this evening, you make real the personal character of that bond.”
Regarding the celebration of Sacraments and Covid restrictions, the senior prelate said, “The Church has fully supported necessary measures to protect health and welfare. We have encouraged the faithful to see recent restrictions on public worship a form of self-sacrifice, enabling them to perform a Christian service. In the same way, we encourage all those who are eligible to be vaccinated, for their own good and to help to protect others. When public worship was again permitted, our parish communities rose to the challenge of welcoming the faithful to celebrate safely and responsibly, with a scrupulous regard to numbers, social distancing and sanitisation. In the same way, we urge everyone to be responsible in how they behave outside church, especially by complying with guidelines regarding socialising between households.
“However, we also have a responsibility to ensure that the faithful have reasonable access to ‘the living bread which has come down from heaven’, to the nourishment by Word and Sacrament which not only sustains Christian living, but which brings our faith to life.”
He continued, “It has been a source of deep frustration to many families, and to parish communities, that for so many months they have been unable to celebrate the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. They have been perplexed, as am I, that of all of the types of events which might give rise to mingling between households, it is uniquely these Sacraments which are prohibited under public guidelines. In all other aspects of life, whether family celebrations of birthdays and anniversaries, or fans gathering to watch sporting events, or indeed after weddings and funerals, people are trusted and expected to observe the guidelines on household mixing. Households are permitted to mix, in homes and in restaurants, in ways that take account of the age and vaccination status of those present. I find it difficult to explain, or justify, that it is only parents of children receiving the sacraments who cannot be trusted to observe these guidelines.
“In the light of the Government’s statement yesterday, I have renewed my advice to parishes to postpone the celebration of the sacraments until September. I can understand, however, the frustration and the resentment of those who feel that the public guidelines are unfair and discriminatory.”