MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — An English cardinal spoke of his relief that churches in England will not close during a third national lockdown.
Churches in Scotland, however, must close as part of measures introduced Jan. 5 to contain the spread of a highly infectious new variant of COVID-19, leading the bishops there to denounce the measure as “arbitrary and unfair.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster welcomed the exemption in a statement published Jan. 5 on the website of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
“The regular practice of our faith in God is a well-established source of both personal resilience and dedicated service to those in need,” said Cardinal Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference. “Such resilience and enduring service are vital in these difficult circumstances.
“I am glad that no measures have been introduced that would obstruct or curtail this essential source of energy for the common good,” he said.
Churches in Wales and Northern Ireland — the two other states that make up the United Kingdom — will be allowed to remain open subject to stringent social distancing measures.
The response to COVID differs because it is treated as a devolved matter, dealt with by principally by national administrations.
All have entered lockdown, which one government minister said would last at least until March, amid a mass vaccination program to counter a mutated variety of coronavirus, which scientists believe is 70% more infectious that the original virus.
The lockdown was announced Jan. 4 in a televised address by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and new rules require that all people “stay at home” unless they are seeking medical assistance, buying food, exercising or fleeing domestic abuse.
Guidance for England says people can also “leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship.”
In November, Johnson was severely criticized by Catholic and Anglican leaders and many politicians of the ruling Conservative Party when he ordered churches to shut for a month during the second national lockdown.
Yet in Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ordered places of worship to close from Jan. 8 until at least Feb. 1.
Her decision led the Scottish bishops to issue a joint statement questioning why “no evidence has been forthcoming to justify the inclusion of places of worship as sources of infection.”
“Public worship is a human right and is a duty humanity owes to God,” they said. “Catholics need the Eucharist.”
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103