The four Metropolitan Archbishops of England issue a message welcoming the announcement that Churches will be able to reopen for prayer and services from 4 July.
The Archbishops of Westminster, Liverpool, Birmingham and Southwark, noted that the recent reopening of churches for private prayer was an important milestone. They also said those that have reopened “have put in place all the measures needed to ensure the risks of virus transmission are minimised.”
Thanks to faithful and priests
The four Archbishops expressed their thanks to everyone within the Catholic community “for sustaining the life of faith in such creative ways, not least in the family home,” during the pandemic.
They especially thanked 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.”
The Archbishops also recognised chaplaincy services, who they said, “have played a vital role in supporting those most in need.”
Rebuilding and change
In the message, they acknowledged, “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 lock down.”
But, they added, now is the time to “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.”
As the restrictions ease from 4 July, the Archbishops reaffirmed that there will be “a limit on the number of people who can attend Mass in our churches.” In light of this, they said, “We ask every Catholic to think carefully about how and when they will return to Mass. Our priests may need to consider whether it is possible to celebrate additional Masses at the weekends.”
They also asked everyone “to respect and follow the guidance that will be issued and the instructions in each church.”
“We have seen love in action through charitable works, and through the service of many front-line key-workers who are members of our Church. Now we can begin to return to the source of that charity, Christ Himself, present for us sacramentally, body, blood, soul and divinity, in Holy Communion.”