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Plans to reopen Churches under discussion with Whitehall, say English and Welsh archbishops

By Cian Molloy - 02 May, 2020

We desire the opening of our churches and access to the sacraments, say five of the most senior Catholic churchmen on

Westminster Cathedral, the primary church of England and Wales.

these islands.

“We know that every bishop and every priest recognises the pain of Catholics who, at present, cannot pray in church or receive the sacraments. This weighs heavily on our hearts,” says a joint statement by the five Metropolitan Archbishops of England and Wales. “Our faith is expressed powerfully and beautifully though ‘seeing, touching, and tasting’.”

Cardinal Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff and Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark say they have been deeply moved by ‘the Eucharistic yearning’ expressed by so many members of the faithful.

“We thank you sincerely for your love for the Lord Jesus, present in the sacraments and supremely so in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” they say, revealing that discussions are taking place between Church leaders and health officials on when, and how, restrictions on communal worship will be lifted.

“As the Government’s restrictions are relaxed step by step, we look forward to opening our churches and resuming our liturgical, spiritual, catechetical and pastoral life step by step. This will also be of service to those beyond the Catholic Church who depend on our charitable activity and outreach through which much goodness is shared by so many volunteers from our communities.

“None of us knows, as yet, how or when the lockdown will end. There is likely to be a phased return to travelling and gathering. As a church, we are now planning for this time and our discussions with the statutory public health agencies and Government representatives are ongoing.

“We desire the opening of our churches and access to the sacraments. Until then, we are continuing to pray and prepare.”

The five metropolitans concluded their message by reminding the faithful that, following the first Easter, the disciples ‘were in lockdown’ and hiding from the Roman authorities. In their isolation the Lord Jesus came among them and said ‘Peace be with you’,” the archbishops say. “May the peace of the risen Lord reign in our hearts and homes as we look forward to the day we can enter church again and gather around the altar to offer together the Sacrifice of Praise.

“We unite in asking the intercession of Our Blessed Lady and assure you of our prayers and blessing.”

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