Well, the good news seems to be that the rules with regard to COVID-19, social distancing and all the rest of it have been relaxed slightly as from yesterday. If you don’t understand the plan going forward then you may find the diagram we’ve published in the COVID-19 section of our website helpful – you can find it here.
It doesn’t mention churches or other places of worship specifically. The closest, I guess, is Step 3 of the plan (“no earlier than July 2020”) which says, “Start to look at reopening hospitality and other public places that attract larger gatherings such as restaurants, cinemas and leisure etc.”
I listen to the Today Programme, in part, most days, whilst having breakfast. I don’t always make it through to the end and this morning was one of those days. However, later in the day, my wife, Denise, who had a more leisurely start this morning and heard the programme to its conclusion, suggested that I listen to one of the later segments, an interview conducted by Justin Webb with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster and also President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
I’m glad she did, and through the medium of this blog, so can you – and I encourage you to do so.
The Cardinal certainly makes some valid points. He calls for “a bit more sensitivity from the Government”, and suggests that churches should be re-opened to allow private prayer, with suitable protective (distancing) measures put in place.
He acknowledges that churches have been creative in coping with the situation, but adds, “… there is a big, big feeling in the religious communities of wanting to get back to a fuller practice of their faith as long as we can do it safely.”
However, his next suggestion might be seen as a bit controversial. He suggested that different denominations and religions might have to be treated in different ways, suggesting that, “A personal, individual prayer in a Catholic church is not something that is much done in Pentecostal churches which tend to concentrate on big gatherings. It’s not done in mosques, where people pray side by side. So we need a bit of differentiated thinking.”
One of the rationales that Roy and I had in setting up this blog as part of our church website was that it could be a forum for considered and measured debate. So – what do we think? How do we approach this? Do we treat different faiths and denominations in different ways? Please let us know your views on this by using the “Leave a Reply” facility at the end of this piece. Use it to respond to the thoughts of others too. But let’s remember, “Love one another…”