The Bishop of Shrewsbury has urged Christians to resist Government attempts to extend Sunday trading hours as part of plans to kickstart the struggling economy in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The bishop’s call comes as new research suggests that retail workers overwhelmingly oppose longer opening hours for large stores on Sundays.
Bishop Mark Davies said any further deregulation of Sunday trading would have an adverse impact on families, communities, religious worship and on “human wellbeing” because any economic benefits could not outweigh the “human loss”.
Bishop Davies warned of the loss of “shared human values” which the observance of Sunday as a national day of rest has involved for all in British society, adding that keeping Sunday special was a key element of the country’s Christian identity.
He also warned worshippers that the discarding of Sunday as a day of rest could lead to the downgrading of the national Christian festivals of Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.
He told a virtual congregation of thousands of viewers watching the Mass via livestream that the proposals represented “a moment for us to raise our voices” in witness to the value of Sunday and in objection to plans that will diminish this day of worship, of rest, of family and community for generations to come.
“As we emerge from lockdown, it is regrettable that the Government is considering removing the remaining legal protections of Sunday in order to make it a full trading day.
“Proposals for unrestricted Sunday trading to revive economic activity would place new demands upon the very shop workers and their families who have supported us throughout this crisis.”
Read more on this story in this week’s edition of The Catholic Universe, dated 26th June 2020.
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Picture: A shopper pictured on Oxford Street. Government politicians are looking for increased retail sales to raise the economy out of recession. (Dominic Lipinski/PA).