The Christmas plans of many of us have been thrown into disarray by the Government’s announcements of last night.
These announcements are driven by a desire to act strongly and swiftly to curb the spread of the new, more easily transmissible strain of the virus. We can only hope they will be effective, and that the sacrifices we will make will truly serve the common good.
As from the 26th of December, St Stephen’s Day / Boxing Day, all the areas of our diocese will be classed as Tier 4, with the exception of the Orkney and Shetland Islands. From the point of view of our Catholic life, the good news is that churches remain open for private prayer and public worship (with the continuing precautions we have become familiar with). The less cheerful news is that attendance at Mass and any other liturgies will be restricted to 20. This will affect our churches in more populous areas.
The Tier 4 decision, we are told, will be reviewed three weeks after it’s coming into force on 26th December. This is essential for now. It is sad and frustrating news. We need to remember that this will not be a permanent situation and that the God’s grace, which “appears” so vividly through the Christmas liturgies, can neither be restricted nor locked down. He is always Emmanuel, God with us.
Bishop Hugh OSB