N. Ireland Christian leaders welcome move to open churches for private prayer

N. Ireland Christian leaders welcome move to open churches for private prayer

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Crux | by Charles Collins | May 19, 2020

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, is pictured in the Vatican in an Oct. 23, 2018 file photo. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

LEICESTER, United Kingdom – Church leaders in Ireland have welcomed the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to allow churches to open for private prayer in its first phase of easing restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

In a letter to the First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, the leaders called the announcement “an important and much-needed sign of hope.”

The message was signed by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, the Primate of All Ireland, as well as the heads of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Anglican Church of Ireland, the Methodist Church in Ireland, and the Irish Council of Churches.

Almost all denominations in Ireland are organized on an all-island basis, covering both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

When the United Kingdom went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, all places of worship were closed to the public, even for private prayer. This was different than most European countries – including the Republic of Ireland – that only banned public worship, allowing churches to remain open for people to visit and pray.

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