In an effort to shed light on the consequences of church closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Union has released a comprehensive survey that will enable Christians to share their personal experiences.
The findings from this study will be instrumental in the Catholic Union’s submission to the ongoing UK COVID-19 public inquiry.
Baroness Hollins, Vice President of the Catholic Union, emphasized the “vital importance” of thoroughly examining the decisions to close places of worship as part of the ongoing inquiry’s investigations. This survey aims to provide invaluable insights into the impact of such closures, ultimately contributing to better decision-making in the event of a future pandemic, with a potential legal presumption against closing places of worship.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about unprecedented challenges, including restrictions on public gatherings and, in some cases, the closure of places of worship. The Catholic Union has been a prominent advocate for maintaining access to church buildings during the pandemic, particularly in England. In 2020, the organization’s efforts yielded significant results, as a letter signed by over 100 Members of Parliament (MPs) and peers effectively prevented the closure of churches in England over the Christmas holiday.
The situation in Scotland saw a significant development in March 2021, when the Court of Session ruled that the prolonged closure of places of worship was ultimately unlawful, marking a landmark decision in the country. These events underscore the significance of considering the impact of church closures during the pandemic.
Jan Figel, the European Union’s former Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, has strongly criticized the closure of places of worship during the pandemic, labeling it as “profoundly illiberal and illegitimate.” Figel also challenged the ban on in-person church services in Slovakia, highlighting the global nature of the issue.
The Catholic Union’s new survey is a crucial step in assessing the effects of these closures, as it aims to capture the personal experiences and opinions of Christians across the UK. By offering a platform for individuals to share their views, the survey seeks to inform policymakers and the public about the consequences of such decisions.
Baroness Hollins stressed the importance of examining these decisions within the context of the public inquiry, noting that during a time when churches were most needed, their doors were locked. Many people found this situation extremely difficult, and the survey aims to ensure that the full range of impacts caused by the pandemic, including the decision to close places of worship, is considered for the future.
Nigel Parker, Director of the Catholic Union, has encouraged all Catholics to participate in the survey to ensure that their voices are included in the inquiry’s findings. The survey is accessible on the Catholic Union’s website, making it easy for individuals to share their experiences and opinions regarding the closure of places of worship during the pandemic.
As the UK continues to face the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Union’s survey is poised to make a valuable contribution to the public inquiry’s decision-making process.
By examining the impact of church closures and considering the perspectives of Christians across the nation, the hope is to learn valuable lessons for the future, ensuring that places of worship remain accessible during any potential future pandemics.