Churches re-opening- A message from the Metropolitan Archbishops

A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops
of the Catholic Church in England

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
On Tuesday we heard the announcement that, from the 4th July this year, places of
worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services. We welcome this news with
great joy. Since the lockdown began, members of all faiths have faced restrictions on
how they have been able to celebrate important religious festivals. Our own
experience of Easter was unlike any other we have known. Now, in our churches,
and with our people, we can look forward again to celebrating the central mysteries
of our faith in the Holy Eucharist.
The recent reopening of our churches for individual private prayer was an important
milestone on our journey towards resuming communal worship. Our churches that
have opened have put in place all the measures needed to ensure the risks of virus
transmission are minimised. This includes effective hand sanitisation, social
distancing, and cleaning. We remain committed to making sure these systems of
hygiene and infection control meet Government and public health standards.We want to thank everyone within the Catholic community for sustaining the life of
faith in such creative ways, not least in the family home. We thank our priests for
celebrating Mass faithfully for their people, and for the innovative ways in which
they have enabled participation through live-streaming and other means. We are
grateful for the pastoral care shown by our clergy to those for whom this time of
lockdown has been especially difficult, and, in particular, towards those who have
been bereaved. We recognise too the chaplaincy services that have played a vital role
in supporting those most in need. Gaining from the experience of all that we have
been through, and bringing those lessons into the future, we must now look forward.
With the easing of restrictions on worship with congregations, we tread carefully
along the path that lies ahead. Our lives have been changed by the experience of the
pandemic and it is clear that we cannot simply return to how things were before
lockdown. We remain centred on the Lord Jesus and His command at the Last
Supper to “do this in memory of me.” We must now rebuild what it means to be
Eucharistic communities, holding fast to all that we hold dear, while at the same time
exploring creative ways to meet changed circumstances.
It is important to reaffirm that, at present, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass
remains suspended. A significant number of churches may remain closed as they are
unable to meet the requirements for opening for individual prayer. Fulfilling these
requirements is a precondition for any church opening after the 4th July for the
celebration of Mass with a congregation.

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