An Irish bishop says he's hopeful churches will be able to open for Christmas, following comments made by the Taoiseach.
Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran said the start of Advent will hopefully coincide with the end of level five restrictions.
He was speaking after Taoiseach Micheál Martin told RTÉ that he thinks Irish churches will be open to celebrate mass in Christmas week.
The Taoiseach has called on people to adhere to level five restrictions for the next three weeks, so we can enjoy a meaningful Christmas.
Bishop Doran hopes those efforts will allow church services to resume in December - and not just for Christmas week.
He said: "We obviously recognise that this is a very anxious time for everyone in the country - very anxious for Government, NPHET who are advising Government, and for people in all sectors.
"We're very hopeful that with all the efforts that are being made - including in our churches - that we will be able to open for mass during the Christmas season, and the period leading up to it."
He said there's a 'real sadness' among many parishioners that they haven't been able to attend mass in recent weeks.
However, Bishop Doran noted that the Church is 'certainly not asking' people to come to mass if they still feel nervous or cautious about indoor gatherings - saying parishes will continue to support those people as best they can.