The Bishop of Limerick has encouraged parishioners to go into lockdown mode in order to preserve life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bishop Brendan Leahy said society cannot wait for a government workplace shut down and, must instead, take individual responsibility.
“The stakes are too high with people’s lives on the line and the health system unable to withstand the pressures. So, it is clear that we, as a public, cannot afford to be nonchalant about social gatherings any more,” he said.
“We cannot wait for a government workplace shut down and, must instead, take responsibility on ourselves.”
Delivering his message at midday Mass, which was streamed live online from St John’s Cathedral, Bishop Leahy confirmed that all Masses – not just Sunday Masses – will no longer be held in public until further notice.
He appealed to people not to attend funerals, unless they are immediate relatives or particularly close friends. Doing otherwise would, he added, “could enter into the realms of recklessness”.
“A great saying found in all religions tells us: ‘do onto others as you would want done onto you’. It’s the Golden Rule and its application is never more timely than in the face of the radical measures we have to take in stopping the spread of the Coronavirus,” Bishop Leahy said.
“What we can and ought to do is take responsibility. And we need to start by reviewing our lifestyle completely for the coming weeks.”
“For the sake of a few weeks, we need to make sacrifices.”
PEOPLE WILL DIE
“Of course, we are afraid of cutting back in business and services; that’s completely understandable but we are at a point where it is now so evident that if we don’t take short-term sacrifice, we will hurt long term,” he said.
“We will hurt economically but we will hurt from a health perspective. And people will die.”
Bishop Leahy continued: “While the Government hasn’t yet called for a lockdown, could we not already voluntarily do our part to effectively, as much as we can, reduce our interactions with one another.”
He argued that unless Ireland follows China’s example of “closing down for a matter of weeks all non essential services, we could pay dearly”.
“Social distancing is vital. Families have been told to avoid children mixing with others. I would appeal to young adults in particular to do their part,” he said.
People who continue to socialise in “large crowds” particularly in “bars”, “could be putting their own loved ones at risk”.
“And, of course, in keeping to the HSE advice, there should be no hand-shaking or hugs regardless. Social distancing must be observed now, as difficult as that is.”
Regarding funeral services, he added: “Once this crisis has passed, and it will pass, another ceremony can be arranged for all those who should not now attend.”
“They can then gather and pay their respects in that great Irish way and let the family know they share their loss. In the meantime, phone-calls, texts and social media can be used to convey support at this very difficult and extraordinary time.”