A change.org petition urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to allow churches to remain open for public worship has gained support from thousands of worshippers.
The petition comes in response to Mr Johnson’s announcement that new tougher national restrictions will be put in place across England from Thursday 5th November to Wednesday 2nd December.
Mr Johnson will update Parliament later today and MPs are set to vote on the measures on Wednesday 4th November. This follows a Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister on Saturday 31st October.
Whilst there was no formal announcement on churches by Mr Johnson at his press conference on Saturday, new guidelines, published on www.gov.uk, state: ‘Places of Worship will be closed, unless they are being used for:
- To broadcast acts of worship
- Individual prayer
- Formal childcare or where part of a school
- Essential voluntary and public services, such as blood donation or food banks
- Other exempted activities such as some support groups’.
As well as Masses and other collective services, weddings are also prohibited.
The change.org petition, titled ‘Keep the churches open for Mass and public worship in this winter’s lockdown measures’, states that ‘from July 2020, when places of worship were allowed to reopen for public worship, many churches have taken extreme measures and acted responsibly in enacting Covid-safe practices’.
It notes that ‘a lot of resources and volunteers were put in place to ensure the churches remained safe to operate’.
The petition also highlights the response of the Catholic Church to these new restrictions, noting that ‘Catholic Bishops have said lockdown would bring ‘hardship, distress and suffering to many’.’
It also points out that Churches have asked the government to reveal evidence behind the decision to ban public worship.
‘The UK Government has difficult decisions to make to combat the current situation, nevertheless it is imperative the government explains any evidence whatsoever that justifies banning of communal worship,’ it states.
The petition adds: ‘Kindly sign this petition to allow many hundreds of thousands of worshippers to continue to attend Mass and public worship daily.
‘Churches provide a vital support base for thousands. Many people will be denied the right to practise their faith and thus suffer the spiritual deprivation on top of the current strenuous lockdown isolation and loneliness.’
Picture: Catholics gather in Westminster Cathedral on 5th July 2020, the first Sunday after the resumption of public Mass and Confession after it was banned during the initial lockdown in March 2020. (Mazur/cbcew.org.uk).