The Bishop of Shrewsbury has welcomed the Government’s recognition of public worship in the national lockdown as “essential” to the life of society and has urged the faithful to avoid any complacency in implementing safety measures.
Bishop Mark Davies encouraged parishioners within his diocese to see the wearing of face-coverings, hand sanitising and careful social distancing as expressions of their love for God and for each other.
Continued diligence in observing rigorous precautions against the spread of the coronavirus remained crucial for public safety and the continuance of public worship into the seasons of Lent and Easter, the bishop said.
The bishop thanked the clergy, volunteers and all who had helped to implement the measures that have enabled churches to remain safely open, but warned that this did not mean parishes had returned to normal and told worshippers that they shared a serious responsibility to help ensure the highest standards of Covid security were maintained.
“We recognise the seriousness of our responsibility to help ensure the continuance of public worship and the safety of all. I ask you not to assume we have yet returned to ‘normal life’ in our parishes; nor to give way to any sense of complacency, especially while a new variant of the virus is spreading rapidly.”
“The continuance of public worship into Lent and Easter will, in large measure, depend on our vigilance and all our efforts to follow the measures which have already made our churches among the safest places in society.”
He said: “We continue to see how these demands call us to a refinement of charity. Requirements as strange – yet now so familiar – as social distancing, hand sanitising in church and wearing face coverings can serve as expressions of our love for our Lord and our love for the Mass, which continues to be publicly celebrated because of the careful fulfilment of such duties.
“If we ever feel fatigued in carrying out these requirements, let us renew them with love. At the end of the Christmas celebration, let us also do so with our gaze fixed on the Holy Eucharist.
“Not a few may ask why churches remain open when other activities are prohibited; and some will question why worship remains the only legally permitted public gathering. Yet, we know that worship is not only a fundamental freedom: it is our primary human vocation. In short, worship is what we were made for.”
Picture: The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, reopens the cathedral doors following the initial lockdown.