The Prime Minister has announced further widespread restrictions in England beginning on Thursday 5 November. The Government have published their New National Restrictions Guidance on their website. Whilst there was no formal announcement on Places of Worship by the Prime Minister, there is clear guidance on this website that places of worship will be required to end all acts of collective worship, except for funeral ceremonies. In response the following statement is issued by the President and Vice-President of the Bishops’ Conference.
"The announcement of a new ‘national lockdown’ in England will, we know, bring hardship, distress and suffering to many. We must hope and pray that this is an effective strategy against a growing pandemic which has tragically taken so many lives already and threatens so many more.
Faith communities have played a vital role in sustaining personal, spiritual and mental health and encouraging vital charitable activities, which support hundreds of thousands of people in all sections of the community, especially the most vulnerable. That critical service towards the common good of all is created and sustained by communal worship and prayer. Part of this selfless giving has been a strong ethic of responsibility in the way in which we have reopened our churches so that essential worship has been enabled. Our communities have done a great deal to make our churches safe places in which all have been able to gather in supervised and disciplined ways.
It is thus a source of deep anguish now that the Government is requiring, once again, the cessation of public communal worship. Whilst we understand the many difficult decisions facing the Government, we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combatting the virus. We ask the Government to produce this evidence that justifies the cessation of acts of public worship.
To counter the virus we will, as a society, need to make sustained sacrifices for months to come. In requiring this sacrifice, the Government has a profound responsibility to show why it has taken particular decisions. Not doing so risks eroding the unity we need as we enter a most difficult period for our country.
The Prime Minister has stated that the draft legislation will be placed before Parliament on Monday 2 November. Members of Parliament will have the opportunity to discuss the issues and vote on the proposed national restrictions. In this short timeframe, questions can be raised with our elected Members of Parliament regarding the cessation of public common worship. They are in a position to require the Government to publish the data that drives the decision to cease public worship under these restrictions."
Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Malcolm McMahon OP
The Archbishop of Birmingham has asked, if we are able to do so, that we consider emailing our MPs. If you attend Mass at SS Peter and Paul or St Michael, the MP to contact is Stuart Anderson (email@example.com). For St Bernadette, please contact Gavin Williamson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The bulletin is now ready to download on the Mass Times and Bulletin page. You will notice the item about Track and Trace. We have created a page on our website explaining how to use the new NHS Track and Trace App for your Smart Phone. To access this page, click the button below.
City of Wolverhampton Council is seeking feedback from residents on their experiences of the Coronavirus lockdown through their short ‘Life in Lockdown’ survey. You can take the survey by clicking the button below.
The Archbishops of England have issued an important briefing about the celebration of Mass which will be able to begin soon. Please read the announcement by clicking the button below.
You will read that a church cannot open for Mass unless it has a strong team of stewards and cleaners.
We have begun a team at St Michael's but this was just for opening twice a week. If it is to open for more days of the week, we will need a bigger team. SS Peter & Paul and St Bernadette's will also need teams of stewards and cleaners who are under 70 before we are able to celebrate Mass in these churches.
If you are able to volunteer, please let Fr Mark know as soon as possible. Please note that none of our churches will be able to open for the celebration of Mass unless we can satisfy the requirements to keep them safe.
As you may be aware, the Catholic Church is represented at various international organisations through the Holy See's Diplomatic Missions. Last month, world leaders and their representatives met together virtually for the 73rd World Health Assembly. As expected, the COVID-19 pandemic was discussed extensively.
His Excellency Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organisations in Geneva, delivered a statement outlining the global response of the Catholic Church to the pandemic. Quoting Pope Francis, he urged Member States to ensure that "the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters living in the cities and the peripheries of every part of the world" are not abandoned.
You can read the statement by clicking the button below.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke to presenter Justin Webb on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on the 14th of May about how Catholic Churches can be safely re-opened for private prayer as the UK government eases its lockdown restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19. You can listen to the interview using the radio player below.
The Holy Father invites us all to participate in an historical event this Thursday 14th May'
Last year, during a Global Conference in Abu Dhabi, the Holy Father and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, signed a Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. One of the consequences of this agreement was to set up The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity. This day of prayer has been proposed by this committee, inviting everyone, regardless of religion to participate. This is the first time in history that all religions are being brought together in prayer and fasting.
There are no set time or set prayers for the day as this will be determined by each of the religions.
Here are a few possible suggestions to choose from, however:
After the online Mass there will be a special prayer marking the day.
Given the news from the Prime Minister this evening (Sunday 10th May) we will await news from the Bishops' Conference to see if this has any implications on the churches, but clearly this will not be for a while yet!
The sisters, and I have been going through the parish database and ringing people to see if they are doing all right. We have discovered a major problem, however, many of the entries are incorrect. This may have happened because of difficulties in reading handwriting when the entries were made into the computer or possibly that some entries which were copied from previous address books are simply out of date.
If you are aware of any parishioner who has not been rung yet, therefore, please could you pass on their details to us so that we can make contact and also update the parish database.
Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, launched its coronavirus emergency appeal on 30 April. Coronavirus (Covid-19) has now spread worldwide, with confirmed cases in many countries where CAFOD works. The effects of coronavirus on developing countries are likely to be devastating. Many countries have very weak healthcare systems and will not be able to cope. Families without enough to eat and without access to clean water, possibly living with other diseases, will be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. It is not just a public health emergency. Many of the world’s most vulnerable people will lose their jobs and be unable to support their families. The poorest and most marginalised communities, working hard to transform their lives, will be pushed further into poverty. CAFOD is adapting its programmes to help manage the risk of coronavirus in communities and working with local Church aid agencies on the frontline of this crisis. They are already working to get food to where it is needed most; to improve hygiene, handwashing and sanitation in communities and households; producing radio messages, posters and leaflets in local languages on risks and prevention; and training community volunteers to carry out awareness campaigns. In order to continue protecting and improving the lives of those in poor communities, your prayers and gifts are needed now more than ever. While we are not able to hold collections in our church, you can donate at cafod.org.uk/coronavirusappeal.
Cafod are also providing some great resources for children during the week and also for children's liturgy on Sundays. They can be accessed below.
Catholic Social Teaching is often described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ for Catholics. At this time when communities are coming together to act in solidarity to battle the spread of COVID-19, Catholic Social Teaching would seem more relevant than ever.
Churches are closed, friends are separated, the elderly and vulnerable are self-isolating - some away from their families - and the rest of us are on lockdown to protect the herculean efforts of the NHS as the virus reaches its peak in the UK.
Professor Jim McManus is Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire and has been helping guide the Catholic Church's response to COVID-19. He talks to us about the vital guiding principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and upholding the common good to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
"We often neglect what's called 'horizontal subsidiarity' - the skills of good citizenship. The skills we learn of participating, of helping one another out, of good behaviour, of pro-social behaviour. This is the time when these networks of skills and goodwill are most needed.
"The 'soft skills' we need as a society are the things we need to practice. So 'horizontal subsidiarity' absolutely comes in. It is derived, theologically, from a duty we owe one another in justice - as fellow creatures - and we should follow that."
You can listen to the podcast by using the 'soundcloud' player above.
This page page displays the latest announcements. For regular weekly news, please ensure you also read the Parish Bulletin.