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English cardinal asks why car showrooms can open but not churches

May 30, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, May 30, 2020 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- An English cardinal will ask Sunday why the government has failed to set a date for churches to reopen when it is lifting lockdown restrictions on car showrooms.

In a homily May 31, Cardinal Vincent Nichols will question why plans to ease lockdown measures from June 1 do not include places of worship.

Preaching at a Pentecost Sunday Mass in Westminster Cathedral, the cardinal will say that the Catholic Church accepted the government’s decision in March to close churches “because the protection of life required it.” 

“But this week’s announcements by the Prime Minister that some indoor sales premises can open tomorrow and that most shops can open on June 15, questions directly the reasons why our churches remain closed,” the Archbishop of Westminster will say, according to a press release issued May 30.

“We are told that these openings, which are to be carefully managed, are based on the need to encourage key activities to start up again. Why are churches excluded from this decision?” 

Public liturgies were suspended in England March 20 and churches closed a few days later. Bishops in the country have faced mounting calls from Catholics to reopen churches and allow congregations at Masses while respecting social distancing rules.

video by lay Catholics appealing for churches to be reopened has been viewed more than 10,000 times since it was posted April 22.

Cardinal Nichols, who has been involved in discussions between the government and religious communities during the lockdown, is expected to say that the pandemic has underlined how important faith is to many people. 

“The role of faith in our society has been made even clearer in these last weeks: as a motivation for the selfless care of the sick and dying; as providing crucial comfort in bereavement; as a source of immense and effective provision for those in sharp and pressing need; as underpinning a vision of the dignity of the every person, a dignity that has to be at the heart of the rebuilding of our society,” he will say.

“The opening of our churches, even if just for individual prayer, helps to nurture this vital contribution to our common good.”

The cardinal, who is the president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, will also say that the bishops are confident they can reopen churches safely.  

“We are ready to follow the Government’s guidelines as soon as they are finalized. What is the risk to a person who sits quietly in a church which is being thoroughly cleaned, properly supervised and in which social distancing is maintained? The benefits of being able to access places of prayer is profound, on individual and family stability and, significantly, on their willingness to help others in their need,” he will say.

“It is now time to move to the phased opening of our churches.”

The island of Guernsey will permit what are thought to be the first public Masses in the British Isles since the coronavirus lockdown from June 1.  

The island, located in the English Channel, is a self-governing British crown dependency and not part of the U.K. It is therefore able to set its own rules.

The U.K. is among the countries worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic. With a population of 67 million, the U.K has had more than 274,000 documented coronavirus cases and 38,450 deaths as of May 30, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.


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Pope Francis calls for “a more just, equitable and Christian society” after coronavirus crisis

May 30, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

Vatican City, May 30, 2020 / 03:15 pm (CNA).- Our suffering during the coronavirus crisis will have been in vain if we fail to build “a more just, more equitable, more Christian society,” Pope Francis said May 30.

In a video message released Saturday, on the eve of Pentecost, the pope urged Catholics to seize the opportunity for change presented by the pandemic.  

He said: “When we come out of this pandemic, we will no longer be able to do what we have been doing, and how we have been doing it. No, everything will be different.”

“All the suffering will have been useless if we do not build together a more just, more equitable, more Christian society, not in name, but in reality, a reality that leads us to a Christian behavior.”

“If we do not work to end the pandemic of poverty in the world, with the pandemic of poverty in the country of each one of us, in the city where each of us lives, this time will have been in vain.”

The pope made the comments in a message to members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS). The body was established in December 2018 by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life to bring together the different branches of the Charismatic Renewal worldwide. Its statutes came into force on the Solemnity of Pentecost 2019.

The pope told CHARIS members, who were taking part in an online Pentecost vigil, that “Today more than ever we need the Father to send us the Holy Spirit.”

The world is suffering, he said, and it needs the witness of Catholics to the Gospel of Jesus, which can only be given through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

“We need the Spirit to give us new eyes, open our minds and hearts to face this moment and the future with the lesson we have learned: we are one humanity. We are not saved alone,” the pope explained, speaking in his native Spanish.

He said that the pandemic had underlined that, despite their differences, Christians are one, united by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

“We have before us the duty to build a new reality,” he said. “The Lord will do it; we can collaborate.”

He continued: “From the great trials of humanity, and among them the pandemic, one comes out either better or worse. It is not the same.”

“I ask you: How do you want to come out? Better or worse? And that’s why today we open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit so that He may change our hearts and help us to come out better.”

“If we do not live to be judged according to what Jesus tells us: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was in prison and you visited me, a stranger and you welcomed me’ (cf. Matthew 25:35-36), we will not come out better.”

The Pope urged members of CHARIS to be guided by a text called Charismatic Renewal and the Service of Man by the Belgian Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens and the Brazilian Archbishop Hélder Câmara. 

He also encouraged them to reflect on “the prophetic words” of St. John XXIII announcing the Second Vatican Council, in which he spoke of a “new Pentecost.” 

Pope Francis concluded: “To all of you, I wish on this vigil the consolation of the Holy Spirit. And the strength of the Holy Spirit to come out of this moment of pain, sadness and trial that is the pandemic; to come out better. May the Lord bless you and may the Virgin Mother take care of you.”


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Vatican tees up summer fun with sports camp

May 30, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Vatican City, May 30, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- After weeks stuck indoors, the children of Vatican employees will be able to stretch their legs, and grow in their faith, at a sports camp hosted inside the Vatican this summer.

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