Writing on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, the five Metropolitan Archbishops have addressed the Covid-19 pandemic and, specifically, the measures taken and restrictions imposed to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Writing of the life-changing conditions – especially changes in health and human interaction – the Archbishops point to the risen Lord as a beacon of hope in these challenging times and recognise that live-streamed Mass and other devotions, although faith-affirming, are second-best to worshipping in Church.
‘None of us would want to be in the situation in which we find ourselves,’ they write. ‘While the live-streaming of the Mass and other devotions is playing an important part in maintaining the life of faith, there is no substitute for Catholics being able to physically attend and participate in the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments. Our faith is expressed powerfully and beautifully though ‘seeing, touching, and tasting.’ We know that every bishop and every priest recognises the pain of Catholics who, at present, cannot pray in church or receive the sacraments. This weighs heavily on our hearts.’
However, the Archbishops also write of the need to act in solidarity for the common good.
‘It is right that the Catholic community fulfils its role in contributing to the preservation of life and the common good of society. This must continue until the restrictions applied by the Government are lifted.’
The Archbishops make it clear that planning is underway for the re-opening of Catholic churches when restrictions are eased and that discussions with the statutory public health agencies and Government representatives are ongoing.
‘As the Government’s restrictions are relaxed step by step, we look forward to opening our churches and resuming our liturgical, spiritual, catechetical and pastoral life step by step. This will also be of service to those beyond the Catholic Church who depend on our charitable activity and outreach through which much goodness is shared by so many volunteers from our communities…
‘Together with Catholics across England and Wales, we desire the opening of our churches and access to the sacraments. Until then, we are continuing to pray and prepare.’
The Metropolitan Archbishops are those of the Archdioceses of Westminster, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and Southwark.
Picture: A man prays in church. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic).