St. Elizabeth’s Church Closed Due to (COVID-19).
Closure of Churches
Following the instruction that the Prime Minister gave last night, there has been an inconsistent message from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government regarding the opening of churches. In the published guidelines, it states that “places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer.” The instruction is very clear on the occasions when someone can leave home:
• Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
• One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
• Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
• Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
None of these four specific reasons for leaving home concur with the visiting of a church for solitary prayer. In addition, keeping churches open could undermine the desire of the Government for people to remain at home, the very fact of them being open may draw people out of their homes, many of which would be the most vulnerable to infection.
As a sad but necessary consequence we must, from this morning, ensure that the doors of all churches and chapels in the Archdiocese are closed to the public and that they remain permanently locked until these restrictions are lifted. In this way we shall continue to play our part within every parish in fighting the Coronavirus and to show our solidarity with all those who are striving to overcome the current pandemic.
Our natural instinct as Catholics to gather together and to pray in the real presence of Our Lord is expressed in the Second Eucharistic Prayer: Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit. The live streaming of Mass at St. Elizabeth’s Church especially Sunday at 10:30am and other twenty-two of our churches (with the Cathedral soon to join that number) is proving to be a great spiritual resource and a powerful way of expressing and deepening our communion in Christ during these challenging days.
The Archbishop Bernard is asking us to keep in your prayers all those working in the NHS and all those who are ill because of the Coronavirus. He particularly thanks all our Hospital and Healthcare Chaplains, working alongside deanery clergy and volunteers at this time, for the hope and trust in Our Lord that they are fostering and for their support of healthcare staff and patients alike.
Pope Francis has called on the world’s Christians and people of goodwill to join together to pray the Lord’s Prayer on Wednesday, 25 March at 11am UK time (midday in Rome).