The Bishops of England and Wales have responded to a video from lay Catholics urging them to allow the faithful back into buildings for prayer.
In the video, posted on YouTube by an account called “I Love the Church”, lay Catholics offer to help bishops and priests manage the proposed reopening, including by controlling numbers, disinfecting pews and organising rotas.
“We will help arrange it so that only a few at a time will go into the church; we are willing to disinfect pews and ensure distancing while it happens; we can organise rotas and won’t burden priests with extra work,” the Catholics promise. They also pledge to help organise Confessions safely and protect older priests.
A spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales responded to the video, saying: “The feelings and desires that are expressed in this video are completely understandable. However there are other factors that need to be considered: we have a moral duty to protect life; we have a duty to heed the best professional advice about the dangers of this virus which is invisible and deadly; we have to be sure that whatever steps we may take – and some are proposed in the video – are well thought through, receive formal approval and are deliverable in every situation.”
“Being deprived of sacraments and being unable to enter our churches is a heavy deprivation,” the spokesman added. “Yet we must be clear why it is necessary at this time.”
“When restrictions are eased, we must be ready to act with full responsibility, under public scrutiny and always with an eye for the common good of the society of which we are a part.”
The video comes as the worldwide Church considers gradually re-opening. The Church in Austria and Germany is expected to begin public Masses again next month, while the US Diocese of Las Cruces has reintroduced public Masses under strict conditions.
The Vatican is also expected to begin easing its lockdown measures May. The Holy See Press Office said on Wednesday that the heads of the Vatican dicasteries have decided to implement a “gradual reactivation of ordinary services” while “safeguarding the health precautions to limit contagion.”