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Ireland’s Catholic church, government clash over COVID-19 restrictions

Five Roman Catholic bishops from Ireland’s 22 dioceses are set to defy COVID-19 restrictions after instructing local parishes to hold communion and confirmation services this month, drawing a sharp rebuke from the government, which have pleaded with them to wait until they consider further easing curbs later this month. Ireland has been gradually unwinding its third and longest lockdown and will only consider easing measures beyond a recent reopening of indoor dining at the end of August over concerns about the more infectious COVID-19 Delta variant. Regular religious services resumed for the first time this year in May. However, baptisms will only return, under one of Europe’s toughest lockdown regimes, from this week, with ministers wary about advising that communions and confirmations may proceed due to the large social gatherings that usually follow these Catholic ritual events, known as sacraments.