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St John Fisher Church West Heath

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

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