You will be aware from the media that the government plans to allow the possibility that places of worship may be opened for private prayer as from Monday June 15, providing they are able to comply with the government’s strict regulations.
Thorough preparations need to be made in order to comply with the government’s policies on safe-distancing and sanitisation, thus making our churches safe places for people to visit.
Not all churches will be able to comply with these policies and so will not be opened.
Please note well that if a church is opened it is only for private prayer, not for public worship at this stage.
As the week goes on, specific guidelines will be issued. It is only then that definite plans to open churches can begin.
Please be aware that we are not talking about a “back-to-normal situation”. Some churches will open, others will not.
It will depend on local circumstances and possibilities. Cardinal Nichols’ statement regarding this news follows.
Yours in blessed hope,
Thorough preparation underway for the safe re-opening of churches on June 15
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has welcomed the decision that Catholic churches that can safely do so will reopen for individual prayer on June 15.
Cardinal Nichols hopes people will benefit from the “sacredness” of our church spaces and describes it as a “great blessing for individuals and for the benefit of all in society, that church doors will again be open to all who long to pray there for the peace and grace we need today.”
Cardinal’s Full Statement
I am grateful to the Prime Minister for his decision that our churches may now open again for individual prayer. I thank the Secretary of State for Communities, Mr Robert Jenrick and the Minister of State, Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, for their leadership of the task force which helped bring about this important step.
This is a first, measured step in restoring the more normal practice of our faith and will be welcomed by so many, who have waited with great patience since March 23 when our churches were closed, by government decision, as part of the fight against this pandemic.
I thank everyone for that patience. It is important that every care is taken to ensure that the guidance given for this limited opening is fully observed, not least by those entering our churches. Our preparation is taking place with thoroughness. Visiting a church for individual prayer, benefitting from the sacredness of that space, can be done safely and confidently.
Not every Catholic church will be open on June 15. Local decisions and provision have to lead this process. But it is a great blessing, for individuals and for the benefit of all in society, that church doors will again be open to all who long to pray there for the peace and grace we need today.
This first step enables us to learn and prepare for those that will take us to a fuller use of our churches, for the celebration of Mass and other sacraments.
We await that time with deep longing but patient understanding that the protection of the health of our society, especially of the most vulnerable, is a proper cause for caution and care.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales