The Archbishop of Dublin has warned that efforts to complete Communions and Confirmations in the current pandemic run the risk of reducing the administration of sacramental acts "almost to the level of a supermarket" in which you can drop in and "get the sacrament done".

This, he said, reduces the Eucharist to a commodity.

Diarmuid Martin has issued a letter regarding the pastoral situation in Dublin "under changed coronavirus norms".

Acknowledging the disappointment of families who had been ready for the celebration of First Communion and Confirmation and who now find them postponed, Archbishop Martin has expressed worry over parishes taking initiatives to "get First Communions and Confirmations done".

Dr Martin said First Communions and Confirmations are sacramental acts and must be celebrated in an appropriate liturgical context and catechetical preparation.

"The idea that sacramental acts have to be done quickly and can be done outside the normal liturgical situation is false.  

"There is no urgent need to celebrate these sacraments just because they fit into the school calendar.  In many dioceses, celebrations of First Communions have yet to be begin", he said. 

The Archbishop expresses concern that many people may be underestimating the seriousness of the current situation in Dublin and now in other counties.

He said the need to reduce contacts and the size of gatherings is also at the root of the norms that ask us to limit public worship and close churches.

The letter notes "reports" quoting a Vatican document urging a rapid return to normal worship.

"Some are using that as an indication that the official line of the Holy See is to object to restrictions" he said.

"This is a very serious distortion of what that document says".

Dr Martin adds: "The document, as I quoted yesterday, strongly supports the application of restrictive measures and 'painful decisions even to the point of suspending the participation of the faithful in the celebration of the Eucharist for a long period',when the need is great."