Public Worship (from Website of the Bishops' Conference of England)
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
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
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
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 Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP
18th March 2020