Dear Brothers and Sisters,
RE: Liturgical Advice from the Bishops of England and Wales
in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Today the Bishops have issued these measures for the duration of the public health crisis. These are temporary measures which come fully into force from Friday evening 20th March and they will be regularly reviewed by the Bishops as circumstances and public health changes.
Sunday and weekday Masses have been suspended. The obligation of the faithful to attend Holy Mass on Sundays and Holy Days cannot be fulfilled for the duration of this public health crisis. According to The Catechism of the Catholic Church, this pandemic is a ‘serious reason’ – suspending your obligation to attend Sunday and Holy Day Mass. Your obligation has been removed by the Bishops. There is no guilt or sin to be felt!
I will celebrate a private Mass in church daily. These Masses will be
celebrated without a congregation. Each Friday a message will be placed on the parish website, Facebook, and Twitter detailing the Mass
Though not present in person, parishioners are invited to make a
spiritual communion with the Priest.
The Diocesan website will provide further information for us all along with details about the live-streaming of Holy Mass from Shrewsbury Cathedral and other churches.
Each Friday we will also mention when the church is open. Please
understand that this will be for private prayer only, without any
organised services. If you do choose to come into church at these times, please follow public health directives regarding social distancing.
2. Baptism, First Reconciliation. First Holy Communion.
The celebration of these Sacraments will have to be deferred until such
time that the public health advice is that people can gather safely.
3. Marriage Helena and I will be in touch with couples who have arranged to be
Requiem Masses have been suspended. Funeral Services should now
only take place at the crematorium chapel or the graveside.
Arrangements will be made for Holy Mass to be celebrated for the
deceased when we once again gather for Masses in church.
5. Holy Week and Easter. We await the decision of the Bishops on these ceremonies.
6. Adoration and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confessions) Details of provision will be given each Friday.
To echo Bishop Mark’s words: It is with sadness we see the temporary cessation of the public celebration of Mass in our parishes … However, we can be grateful for the clarity these new measures offer.
Let us pray that this pandemic will soon be at an end and that Christ and his Blessed Mother will give us the grace to endure any isolation or sickness we must bear.
With my continued prayers for you and your loved ones,
Father Jerome (Parish Priest)
18th March 2020
CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF ENGLAND AND WALES
A letter from the President and Vice-President on behalf of all the Bishops of the Conference
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.
Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength. In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.
However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.
Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.
We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the 'serious reason' why this obligation does not apply at this time.
You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take in the accompanying document and on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.cbcew.org.uk). Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.
The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other. There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.
During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it. The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.
'The Lord is my shepherd,
There is nothing I shall want.'
May God bless us all.
Vincent Cardinal Nichols President
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP Vice-President
18th March 2020