Northern Ireland

'Priestless parishes' plans 'not applicable' on Sundays

Priest
Image caption Fr McGee said a priest would still be present during mass on a Sunday

Radical plans for "priestless parishes" will not apply to Sunday services, a diocese of Down and Connor spokesman has said.

Speaking to BBC's Good Morning Ulster, Father Edward McGee, said certain liturgical celebrations could take place in the absence of a priest.

Fr McGee said bishops were looking at pastoral situations during the week when priests would be unavailable.

He said plans were due to "a changing scene".

"The bishops are looking at guidelines to establish maybe the training of people to assist the priest in these situations and try to follow the norms already in place within the church and how these should be carried out," he said.

Fr McGee added that it was not an entirely new concept as lay people already assisted priests.

He said a priest would still be present during mass on a Sunday.

"The centrality of the celebration of the mass on a Sunday and the obligation to go along and celebrate as a community in the celebration of mass is fundamental and quite central to our belief," he said.

The Irish Catholic newspaper has reported that a discussion document on the matter would be discussed at a meeting of the hierarchy in October.

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