The instructions now being given by the government are very clear on the occasions when someone can leave home:
Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
None of these four specific reasons for leaving home concur with the visiting of a church for solitary prayer. In addition, keeping churches open could undermine the desire of the Government for people to remain at home; the very fact of our churches being open may draw people out of their homes, many of whom would be the most vulnerable to infection.
The Public Health advisor to the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales, Professor Jim McManus, has consulted a senior civil servant regarding the inconsistent information in the online advice and it was quite clear that the respective Ministry had not considered sufficiently the issues of infection and security of churches. When Professor McManus made these points clear, the civil servant agreed that a mistake had been made and, within the restrictions laid out in the instructions given by the Prime Minister yesterday evening, that keeping churches open sends an utterly inconsistent message, and therefore they must be closed to assist in stopping infection.
Consequently, the information received from the Secretariat of the Bishop’s Conference is that our churches must be closed for the benefit of others and to help prevent infection. As a matter of priority, you will agree that we must do all we can to protect the lives and well-being of the faithful and all citizens.
The closure of our churches will not prevent the ability to live-stream the celebration of Mass and other forms of liturgical prayer. Although last Sunday we were able to include the assistance of a cantor and organist at the Cathedral under the social distancing guidance, this will no longer be possible because of the instructions on travel listed above. Until the current restrictions are lifted, any Masses celebrated at the Cathedral that are live-streamed will be without the assistance of any sacred ministers in the liturgy. The Cathedral clergy who reside together at Cathedral House, Canon Matthew Habron, Fr Sean Crawley, Rev Darren Jones may celebrate the sacred liturgies together when these are live-streamed but they will observe all the necessary liturgical requirements and hygiene precautions.
Leeds Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Diocese of Leeds, will live-stream daily Mass at 10:30am starting on Wednesday 25th March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Holy Mass will be live-streamed on Sundays at 11:00am. The Angelus and Rosary will be prayed at 12:00noon, Monday to Saturday. The live-stream can be viewed at: www.leedscathedrallive.org.uk
More information can be found here: