The metropolitan archbishops of England and Wales acknowledged the pain of Catholics who cannot receive the sacraments because of the coronavirus lockdown in a message issued today.
In the message, entitled “A People who Hope in Christ”, published May 1, the archbishops said that while livestreamed Masses nourished faith, they were no substitute for public liturgies.
“None of us would want to be in the situation in which we find ourselves,” they wrote. “While the livestreaming of the Mass and other devotions is playing an important part in maintaining the life of faith, there is no substitute for Catholics being able to physically attend and participate in the celebration of the Mass and the other sacraments.”
Writing on behalf of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, the five archbishops continued: “Our faith is expressed powerfully and beautifully though ‘seeing, touching, and tasting.’ We know that every bishop and every priest recognize the pain of Catholics who, at present, cannot pray in church or receive the sacraments. This weighs heavily on our hearts.”
“We are deeply moved by the Eucharistic yearning expressed by so many members of the faithful. We thank you sincerely for your love for the Lord Jesus, present in the sacraments and supremely so in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”
“The bishops and priests of every diocese are remembering you and your loved ones at Mass each day in our churches as we pray ‘in hope of health and well-being.’ We thank our priests for this faithfulness to their calling.”
“None of us knows, as yet, how or when the lockdown will end,” the archbishops said. “There is likely to be a phased return to travelling and gathering. As a church, we are now planning for this time and our discussions with the statutory public health agencies and Government representatives are ongoing.
“Together with Catholics across England and Wales we desire the opening of our churches and access to the sacraments. Until then, we are continuing to pray and prepare.”
The letter was signed by Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff and Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark.