Covid-19: Catholic cardinal calls for the churches to remain open

Harry Farley
BBC News


Head of the Roman Catholic Church in England & Wales has asked the government to not rescind restrictions placed on churches by Covid.

Interview with BBC: Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Westminster said that people are able to “make sound judgments” and understand the risks.

“We don’t need to be forced to follow certain rules.”

He spoke before the Midnight Mass at Westminster Cathedral.

He said that the “great vulnerability” period of the pandemic in his sermon at the packed cathedral service.

He asked the congregation to refrain from “putting up obstacles” or trying to force them or others to follow their lead, even if it meant that the “comes first, regardless of the cost”.

He said, “The vulnerability and the Christ-child challenge such thinking.”

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When asked about the message he sent to the government regarding the possible addition of Covid restrictions, Cardinal Nichols stated that he appealed to them not close churches or places of worship again.

He stated that he believes it has been proven that big, open areas like churches are not places where the virus can be spread.

“I feel that this country has proven people are capable of making good judgments on their own. Now we’re able to say that the risk is understood. We are aware of what to do. People are generally sensible and prudent. The archbishop stated that we don’t require stronger directives to show us how to behave.

As the UK reports a record number of infections, the archbishop pleads for help. However, the UK Health Security Agency head said that data suggesting Omicron variants may not cause severe illness offers “a glimmer Christmas hope”.

For Christmas this year, churches require that you wear a mask.

Later in the day, Pope Francis will present his Christmas message from Rome’s St Peter’s Basilica.

In his Christmas sermon, the Archbishop will likely call on the Channel to show compassion towards migrants.

Justin Welby will sing praises for the RNLI, Border Force and Border Force personnel who help refugees reach UK shores.

Justin Welby will preach that the Christmas story teaches us how to treat people who are different from us in his sermon

His sermon will likely include praises for rescuers, such as those of Border Patrol and the crews from the RNLI.

He is expected to also pay tribute to volunteers at food banks during the holiday period as well as “other places comfort and assistance” that “show this country its best” and who embody “it’s about not me”.

Welby also said that the pandemic has made people confront their “fragility,” as no one else before.

His statement is likely to include the following: “We all face uncertainty and unpredictability”, whether we are dealing with the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies or cabinet ministers, as well as the advisors of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.

In his Christmas message, Archbishop of Wales thanked NHS workers and front-line workers who helped him through the pandemic.

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