Bishop of Shrewsbury welcomes public worship as essential

The bishop of Shrewsbury has welcomed the government's recognition of public worship throughout lockdown as essential.

Rev Mark Davies
Rev Mark Davies

In a pastoral letter read at all masses in the Diocese of Shrewsbury, Rev Mark Davies encouraged parishioners to wear face coverings, abide by social distancing rules and follow any other regulations laid out in national guidance.

Continued diligence in observing rigorous precautions against the spread of coronavirus remains crucial for public safety and to ensure public worship can continue through Lent and Easter, the bishop said.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that communal acts of public worship could continue throughout the national lockdown.

Mr Davies thanked the clergy, volunteers and all who had helped implement measures that have enabled churches to remain safely open.

He said: "We recognise the seriousness of our responsibility to help ensure the continuance of public worship and the safety of all.

"I ask you at the beginning of this New Year and a renewed state of lockdown, not to assume we have yet returned to normal life in our parishes, nor to give way to any sense of complacency, especially while a new variant of the virus is spreading rapidly.

"The continuance of public worship into Lent and Easter will, in large measure, depend on our vigilance and all our efforts to follow the measures which have already made our churches among the safest places in society.”

He added: “We continue to see how these demands call us to a refinement of charity. Requirements as strange – yet now so familiar – as social distancing, hand sanitising in church and wearing face coverings can serve as expressions of our love for our lord and our love for the mass, which continues to be publicly celebrated because of the careful fulfilment of such duties.

"If we ever feel fatigued in carrying out these requirements, let us renew them with love. At the end of the Christmas celebration, let us also do so with our gaze fixed on the Holy Eucharist.”

"Not a few may ask why churches remain open when other activities are prohibited and some will question why worship remains the only legally permitted public gathering. Yet, we know that worship is not only a fundamental freedom, it is our primary human vocation. In short, worship is what we were made for.”

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