The Catholic Union has called on the UK Government to allow churches to reopen for private prayer ahead of the next review of lockdown restrictions.
The existing restrictions – which require the closure of all places of worship – are due to be reviewed on Thursday 28 May.
Catholic Union President, Sir Edward Leigh, has written to Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, to call for churches in England to be allowed to open for private prayer as soon as possible.
In his letter, Sir Edward raises concerns about the current timescale for lifting lockdown restrictions in England – which would see places of worship allowed to open “no earlier than 4 July” as set out in the UK Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy.
Churches in Northern Ireland are already open for private prayer and the Scottish Government has plans to allow places of worship to open for private prayer next month. Sir Edward warned that the position in England is beginning to look at odds with the rest of the UK and the rest of Europe.
The Catholic Union wants to see places of worship allowed to open for private prayer from Monday 1 June – which is when Step 2 in easing restrictions in England is due to happen.
Catholic Union Head of Public Affairs, James Somerville-Meikle, commented: “We’ve all needed to make sacrifices during this difficult time. For many people, not being allowed into their church has been one of the hardest parts of lockdown. Catholics have shown enormous patience and perseverance over the past two months, but the time has come to allow people back into churches. Catholic Bishops have a plan for how churches can be opened safely – we now need a sense of urgency and understanding from the Government to make this happen. People are rightly asking why it’s possible to play a round of golf and visit DIY stores, but not be allowed into their church. Clearly this is not a case of returning to life as normal – there will need to be social distancing and cleaning measures in place. It’s time to take the first steps in allowing people back to church.”
A blog post of this article can also be found on The Tablet website.