Bishops plan to safely reopen Catholic churches in Scotland

Bishops plan to safely reopen Catholic churches in Scotland in bid to ease ‘painful and difficult’ coronavirus restrictions on worshippers

  • Bishops are forming a working group to examine ways of limiting infections
  • They want to form a plan to allow worshippers to return ‘early and safely’
  • Bishop Hugh Gilbert said that the coronavirus impact is ‘painful for Christians’  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Catholic churches are beginning to plan for reopening in Scotland.

Bishops will be forming a Covid-19 working group, to examine ways of limiting the spread of infection but allowing worshippers to return to church at an ‘early and safe’ opportunity.

A case will then be made by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland to the Scottish Government, based on its guidelines around social distancing and hygiene.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert said that the lives of Christians have been painful in the Covid-19 outbreak

– A pew between two, or no pews at all in church, in order to maintain social distancing 

– Hymn books could be removed

– Suspension of the peace sign

– Suspension of the use of holy water 

Measure could include a pew between two worshippers or pews removed entirely, while hymn books could temporarily be removed.

The Peace sign could also be suspended with the use of holy water at the back of churches. 

Bishop Hugh Gilbert said: ‘Our lives remain greatly restricted by this crisis in a way that is painful and difficult for us as Christians.

‘As bishops, we want to offer our thanks to our clergy, religious and laity for their patience and forbearance during these testing times.’

‘Throughout these weeks of lockdown, there have been many signs of hope and faith and it is in the hope that we will recover, that we must plan for the future and find a safe pathway to the resumption of our sacramental life.’

Catholic churches like St Mary’s Cathedral in Aberdeen, pictured, are beginning to tentatively plan for reopening in Scotland

‘The bishops are keen to benefit from the advice of experts in medicine and public health.

‘In the interests of everyone’s safety we will proceed cautiously and carefully in step with public health guidance.’

It comes after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday revealed a 27-page plan for a provisional lockdown exit strategy north of the border.

The document revealed five restrictions that may be first to ease ‘when the time is right’.

They include changes to the stay at home message, changes to advice about visiting other households, resuming care and support for those most affected by the restrictions, changes affecting businesses and options for schools reopening.

It also outlines a four-part ‘routemap’ of measures which the Scottish Parliament hopes will speed up the time it takes to lift the lockdown. 

The document ends by saying further information on these plans will be made available ahead of the next review date on May 28.

Boris Johnson is set to open up on England’s path out of lockdown on Sunday and implied in Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions that the measures could start as early as Monday. 

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