Church buildings in England were reopened for private individual prayer earlier this week with strict rules in place.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, joined the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on Monday 15th June as the two Church leaders started the day together in prayer.
They spent some time in private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament at Westminster Cathedral before heading to Westminster Abbey to pray at the shrine of Edward the Confessor.
Cardinal Nichols described it as “a great joy” to see churches open once again and it said had been “good to pray” with the archbishop “to mark this moment of grace”.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said it is “always a joy to see” Cardinal Nichols “but today we needed to keep distant”.
He added: “We continue to give thanks for all battling the pandemic and pray for a renewal of our common life.”
Signs which read ‘pray safe, stay safe’ reminded people to keep two metres apart as they arrived at Westminster Cathedral.
Worshippers were asked to stay for up to an hour per day to allow others the chance to enter.
The restricted hours were to allow the cathedral to be regularly cleaned and for a safe commute for the staff and volunteers.
People in groups were asked to separate or leave, and confessions were not heard at the cathedral. Toilets, the shop and cafe were shut.
The need to maintain social distancing means “this is very much the first step of our opening”, according to Fr Andrew Gallagher, of Westminster Cathedral.
He added: “I am sure we all see this as a moment of joy, after what has been a difficult journey through Lent and Easter.”
Picture: Cardinal Nichols and Archbishop Welby practice social distancing as they pray together at Westminster Cathedral. (Mazur/cbcew.org.uk).