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Catholic Union urges people to have their say in Covid Inquiry

The Catholic Union has launched a new survey on people’s experiences and attitudes towards the closure of places of worship during the pandemic.

The survey results will shape the Catholic Union’s submission to the UK Covid-19 public inquiry, which is currently considering the political decisions taken during the pandemic.

Catholic Union Vice President, and professional psychiatrist, Baroness Hollins said it was “vitally important” that the inquiry considers the decision to close places of worship as part of its investigations.

The Catholic Union played a leading role in getting churches reopened in the later stages of the pandemic. A letter organised by the Catholic Union, and signed by over 100 MPs and peers, spared churches in England being closed over Christmas in 2020.

While in Scotland, the prolonged closure of places of worship was ultimately found to be unlawful in a judgment by the Court of Session in March 2021.

The Catholic Union hopes that this survey and the work of the Inquiry will result in better decision making in the event of another pandemic, including agreement on a presumption against closing places of worship by law.

People can take part in the survey here.

Catholic Union Vice President, Baroness Hollins, comments: “The pandemic touched all of our lives in different ways. The full impact is perhaps still to be realised in terms of treatment that was delayed, relationships that were strained, as well as those still suffering with or from Covid today. For people of faith, there was the added pain of being unable to go to their church either to pray alone or to participate in worship. At a time when our churches were most needed, their doors were locked. I know many people found this extremely difficult. It is vitally important that this public inquiry considers the full range of impacts caused by the pandemic, including the decision to close places of worship so that we can learn valuable lessons for the future.”

Catholic Union Director, Nigel Parker, comments: “Before Covid, few of us could have imagined our churches being forced to close by law. Yet that is the situation we faced at times during the dark days of the pandemic. Any inquiry into the UK’s response to the pandemic needs to consider the decisions around the closure and reopening of places of worship, which had such a huge impact on so many people. The Catholic Union led the charge in getting our churches open again, and we’re now committed to making sure they are never forced to close again. I encourage everyone to take part in our survey to make sure the voices of Catholic are heard as part of this Inquiry.”