Churches in Wales to close during second lockdown

Extract from an article published in The Tablet by Ruth Gledhill , Sarah MacDonald

Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack is ‘disappointed’ that churches in Wales are to close again for public worship.

The Archbishop of Cardiff has expressed his “disappointment” that churches in Wales will have to close for three weekends under the coronavirus “circuit break” lockdown.

The new restrictions in Wales begin on Friday and last until Monday 9 November. Wales joins Ireland as the other country in Europe to temporarily suspend public worship in line with new restrictions.

Churches in Wales can continue to run any food banks and also they to offer online Mass, without congregations.

Archbishop of Cardiff, George Stack, said: “I am naturally disappointed at the forthcoming ‘firebreak’ measures which, once again, will see our churches closed for public worship. Since their re-opening at the end of the first lockdown, our churches have been places of safety and security as well as tranquillity and peace, so much needed in these turmoil ridden days.

“They have been exemplary in conforming to social distancing measures, health and safety requirements and track and tracing procedures. We are grateful to the teams of volunteers which have made this possible.”

He continued: “Notwithstanding the impact of the live Streaming of Mass and other services in recent months, gathering to celebrate Mass and worshipping God as a community of faith lies at the heart of our religious life. Ours is an incarnational religion. The ‘Eucharistic famine’ of the recent months of lockdown has been painful to us in so many ways known and unknown. Churches are not just places in which we worship God but with which we worship God.”

He said the Catholic Church is continuing to work with the Welsh government to see if churches may remain open for private prayer at specified times over the next two weeks. “Part of that prayer will surely be that the ‘firebreak’ measures will achieve their purpose of reducing  the level and speed of infections caused by the coronavirus pandemic and restore the nation to health.”