The Archbishop of Glasgow has suggested that churches in Scotland might be able to re-open for private prayer from the middle of June, and public Masses could resume in July.
Speaking during a live-streamed Mass, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said it was time for the Glasgow’s churches to start planning for “re-opening”. He indicated that the Scottish government is planning to allow limited public access to churches from mid-June as part of a gradual three-phase programme to wind down restrictions on daily life.
“We have been advised too that churches may open for limited purposes in phase two, which will be after the 18th June review, and that public Masses and acts of worship may resume with phase three that will follow the 9th July review,” the Archbishop said.
However, he cautioned that the dates are “provisional”, depending on the how well the virus is being controlled.
On Thursday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that she was initiating phase one of the post-lockdown, introducing a light loosening of restrictions. From Friday, people will be able to meet members of other households, provided they do so outdoors and practice social distancing. Outdoor leisure activities such as golf and fishing can also resume, and Scots will be able to sunbathe and sit in parks.
The Scottish Church is drawing up a strategy to allow its buildings to re-open. This will include social distancing in church, with the possible removal of pews, Holy Water and hymn books, and the suspension of the Sign of Peace.
“Provisional as [the re-opening dates] are, now, thank God, we have an idea of where we are headed, and we can make practical preparations for the sacramental life of the Church to be resumed,” Archbishop Tartaglia said.
“As you can see, we still need to be patient for some weeks yet. During these weeks, we need to pray for those who are ill, for those who are dying and for all those who are involved in the care and protection of our families, neighbours, friends and loved ones. We need to continue to pray too that the rate of infection slows down and the virus becomes less of a risk.”