The Bishops are now offering to the Dioceses of England and Wales, updated Covid-19 guidance as the country moves into Step 4 of the Government’s Covid-19 Response Roadmap. It covers topics including: social distancing and church capacity, congregational singing, acts of worship, celebration of Holy Mass and the Sacraments, home visits, social activities and church groups
“It is important to reiterate that as Step 4 is reached, the general principles of continuing to create a safe environment in places of worship and their ancillary buildings are not abandoned,” says the Bishops. “Indeed, the way forward must be a collective endeavour of all involved in the daily life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.” Read the full guidance here.
This comes into effect on Monday, July 19, 2021.
On July 19, the current legislative powers which assist the mitigations against the Covid-19 virus transmission will be rescinded by HM Government. Nevertheless, there will be an encouragement to personal and corporate responsibility in this area; as the Prime Minister said in his most recent statement “The pandemic is not over.” Even without this legislation in place, the Church in England and Wales will be adopting a cautious approach to capacity and activity within our buildings, especially at corporate acts of worship.
We are mindful of the certain fact that the Covid-19 virus is still circulating in society. Vaccines provide genuine protection against the worst effects of the virus, yet we recognise the legitimate fear on the part of some who otherwise desire to gather for Holy Mass. It is our continuing judgement, therefore, that it is not possible at the present time for all of the faithful to attend Mass on a Sunday thus fulfilling their duty to God.
It is hoped that it will be possible for all Catholics in England and Wales to fulfil this most important Church precept, that of the Sunday Obligation, by the First Sunday in Advent 2021 (November 28).
In the meantime, all Catholics are asked to do their best to participate in the celebration of the weekly Sunday Mass and to reflect deeply on the centrality of Sunday worship in the life of the Church.
In April, following our Plenary Assembly, we offered a reflection on the experience of the extraordinary long months of the pandemic. It was titled The Day of the Lord. We also began to look at the way forward. We spoke about the important invitation to restore the Sunday Mass to its rightful centrality in our lives. We asked for a rekindling in our hearts of a yearning for the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, as our response to the total, sacrificial love that Jesus has for us. We said: “The Eucharist should be the cause of our deepest joy, our highest manner of offering thanks to God and for seeking his mercy and love. We need to make it the foundation stone of our lives.”
May this continue to be our striving during these coming months as we journey back to the full celebration of our Sunday Mass and our renewed observance of The Day of the Lord.