News/Corona Virus updates

20th June 2020

Updates on Covid-19

A Message from the Metropolitan Archbishops
of the Catholic Church in England

Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

On Tuesday we heard the announcement that, from the 4th July this year, places of
worship will be able to reopen for prayer and services. We welcome this news with
great joy. Since the lockdown began, members of all faiths have faced restrictions on
how they have been able to celebrate important religious festivals. Our own
experience of Easter was unlike any other we have known. Now, in our churches,
and with our people, we can look forward again to celebrating the central mysteries
of our faith in the Holy Eucharist.

The recent reopening of our churches for individual private prayer was an important
milestone on our journey towards resuming communal worship. Our churches that
have opened have put in place all the measures needed to ensure the risks of virus
transmission are minimised. This includes effective hand sanitisation, social
distancing, and cleaning. We remain committed to making sure these systems of
hygiene and infection control meet Government and public health standards.

We want to thank everyone within the Catholic community for sustaining the life of
faith in such creative ways, not least in the family home. We thank our 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. We are
grateful for the pastoral care shown by our clergy to those for whom this time of
lockdown has been especially difficult, and, in particular, towards those who have
been bereaved. We recognise too the chaplaincy services that have played a vital role
in supporting those most in need. Gaining from the experience of all that we have
been through, and bringing those lessons into the future, we must now look forward.

With the easing of restrictions on worship with congregations, we tread carefully
along the path that lies ahead. 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
lockdown. We remain centred on the Lord Jesus and His command at the Last
Supper to “do this in memory of me.” We must now 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.

Mass in our churches. This will determined locally in accordance with social
distancing requirements. We therefore need to reflect carefully on how and when we
might be able to attend Mass. We cannot return immediately to our customary
practices. This next step is not, in any sense, a moment when we are going ‘back to

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. Given there is no Sunday obligation, we ask you to consider
the possibility of attending Mass on a weekday. This will ease the pressure of
numbers for Sunday celebrations and allow a gradual return to the Eucharist for
more people.

Moving forward, there will still be many people who cannot attend Mass in person.
We therefore ask parishes, wherever possible, to continue live-streaming Sunday
Mass, both for those who remain shielding and vulnerable, and also for those unable
to leave home because of advanced age or illness.

When we return to Mass there will some differences in how the celebration takes
place. For the time being, there will be no congregational singing and Mass will be
shorter than usual. None of this detracts from the centrality of our encounter with
the Risen Christ in the Eucharist. We ask everyone to respect and follow the guidance
that will be issued and the instructions in each church.

“As I have loved you,” said the Lord Jesus, “so you must love each other.” (Jn 13:34) The
lockdown has brought forth remarkable acts of charity, of loving kindness, from
Catholics across our communities as they have cared for the needy and vulnerable.
We have seen love in action through charitable works, and through the service of
many front-line keyworkers 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. As we prepare to gather again
to worship, let us, respectful of each other, come together in thanksgiving to God for
the immense gift of the Holy Eucharist.

Yours devotedly in Christ

✠ Vincent Cardinal Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster
✠ Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool
✠ Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham
✠ John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark