As the lockdown restrictions ease, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales are working hard to persuade the government to open our churches again. Rest assured we are being heard by our bishops and they are responding to our requests. In his Pentecost homily, Cardinal Nichols announced, “It is now time to move to the phased opening of our churches.” Conscious that this needs to be done safely, he stated that, “We are confident that we can do so. We have developed expert guidance. We are ready to follow the Government’s guidelines as soon as they are finalised.”
On 27th May 2020 Archbishop John Wilson wrote to the prime minister respectfully asking for the churches to be opened “for individual visits for private prayer.” In his letter he pointed out that “to enable non-essential shops and services to open, while keeping churches closed for individual prayer, is an infringement of both religious freedom and equity.” Furthermore, he proved that we are being heard when he stated that “I receive letters and emails everyday asking for this, but the decision rests with you and I believe that it is now time to make this possible.”
When the government released a 50-page recovery strategy on 11th May the Catholic bishops of England and Wales collectively expressed disappointment at the policy because they were hopeful that churches might have been included in the first wave of places declared fit to reopen. Since then they have been expressing this disappointment with letters and radio interviews with a view to make our voices heard. We too can reinforce the words of our bishops by writing to our MPs and asking for our churches to be reopened or signing the petition to reopen our churches. If we stand united and respectfully request it, surely we will be heard.