Catholic Bishops’ Conference Update

CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE UPDATE AND RESPONSE TO GOVERNMENT DOCUMENT “OUR PLAN TO REBUILD: THE UK GOVERNMENT’S COVID-19 RECOVERY STRATEGY

The Government document states that the re-opening of public spaces including “public places of worship” will not take place until at least 4th July 2020. The full report and plan can be downloaded at gov.uk website.

Statement from the Catholic Bishops

The timing and the manner of the opening of churches touches profound sensitivities and spiritual needs. The Government’s document and statements fail to recognise this.

The Government’s position, established today, includes these steps aimed at opening churches as soon as possible: the establishment of a task force for places of worship, to work closely with ‘stakeholders’ in ensuring that premises are COVID-19 secure; and heeding the experience of other countries in which churches are already open for worship.

In dialogue with the Government, the Catholic Church will continue its engagement in this process and has already submitted a detailed plan, in full accordance with public health guidelines, for churches to be opened for private prayer.

The Church is ready to play its full part in the task force, understanding that this includes the possible earlier use of churches for private prayer, as a first safe step towards their use for public worship.

During the daily Government briefing on Wednesday 13th May the government confirmed that they will begin consultation and discussions with all faith leaders next week re the opening of places of worship prior to 4th July for private prayer only.

Live Streamed Masses are being offered for the Sick, their families, NHS staff and those working in social care. Cardinal Vincent Nichols has expressed his “deep appreciation” for all those caring for others during the coronavirus pandemic. Acknowledging the community solidarity behind the “Clap for our Carers” initiative Cardinal Nichols has said that “on Thursday evenings at 7.00pm, a Bishop will celebrate Mass in one of the cathedrals for the care workers.” These have already taken place at Westminster Cathedral, Arundel Cathedral, Leeds Cathedral and this last Thursday at Newcastle Cathedral The next two Thursdays they will be live streamed from:

Thursday 21st May Shrewsbury Cathedral https://www.shrewsburycathedral.org
Thursday 28th May Middlesbrough Cathedral middlesbroughrccathedral.org

Cardinal Nichols goes on to say “Use that time before 8.00pm on a Thursday to offer your prayers of thanksgiving for these generous, courageous people. We applaud, but we pray and we pray fervently for them. May God bless them all”

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