Bishops publish letter of hope to Scotland's Catholics
A national pastoral letterfrom Scotland's Catholic Bishops has highlighted “reasons for hope, as we live through these difficult times”.
The document, suggests society has begun to rediscover universal human dignity, pointing out that when citizens were asked “to make difficult and prolonged sacrifices for the sake of the most vulnerable and they willingly responded.”
In Pastoral Letter to Scotland’s Catholic community, the Bishops of Scotland have highlighted “reasons for hope, as we live through these difficult times”. The document suggests society has begun to rediscover universal human dignityhttps://t.co/mBYdo44SFmpic.twitter.com/qnrt2swz9M
The letter describes this genuine concern for the vulnerable as “obvious and beautiful”.
The letter goes on to hope that “the love and compassion we have shown amid so much suffering and death in recent months (might) now become a way of life and that love of neighbour might now “become the vital principle of our culture”. The document also addresses medical Care of the Sick and Vulnerable, the economy and vaccines.
The bishops welcome the news of vaccine approvals and “hope this will allow an early immunisation programme to protect our population and offer the prospect of some return to normal life.”
In response to ethical concerns raised about the vaccines, the bishops “reassure our Catholic population that, in accordance with longstanding guidance from the Pontifical Academy for Life, it is ethical to take any of the C19 vaccines purchased by the UK at the present time, either because foetal cell lines have not been used in their development or because their sourcing is sufficiently remote.”
The Pastoral Letter observes, that “Just as the nations of the world have been required to collaborate to respond effectively to the virus, so too in our own society we must work together for a better future as we rebuild after the Pandemic.”
The document is being distributed to all of Scotland’s 500 parishes. Read it here.
WATCH: Level Four now in place in four areas in Archdiocese
Level 4 measures are now in place for several regions across Scotland. They affect four areas in our diocese - Stirling, West Lothian, East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire. These measures are in place for three weeks, ending on 11 December.
Earlier this week Reporting Scotland visited St Mary's Parish in Stirling for a report in which the possibility of a 'Christmas reprieve' from the toughest measures might offer people some hope. Bishop John Keenan, of Paisley Diocese, features.
Find out more about how these measures affect parishes across our diocese here.
Update: How Level 4 measures impact our Archdiocese
The First Minister today announced Level 4 measures which will affect four areas in our diocese - Stirling, West Lothian, East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire. These begin on Friday at 6pm for a period of three weeks.
Areas in our diocese going into Level 4 measures
When does it start?
Level 4 restrictions begin this Friday (20 Nov) and last three weeks, until Friday 11 Dec.
Four areas in our diocese will move up to Level 4 restrictions from Friday: Stirling, West Lothian, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire. This means Mass numbers will be restricted to 20 people in those areas only.
Wedding capacity: 15 (Priest and Couple do not have to wear face coverings). Wedding receptions are not permitted.
Funeral capacity: 20.
Baptisms 20 (and must be within Mass).
Can be used for the streaming of Mass (not other services) but only up to a maximum of 20 people.
Church halls are closed for all other purposes and activities.
Pastoral visits to hospitals, care homes and private homes
This is classed as part of the essential care provision and therefore permitted. Travel for this purpose is permitted. Don’t visit too many homes in one morning/afternoon.
What about other areas?
Midlothian and East Lothian: move down from Level 3 to Level 2 on Tuesday 24 November.
Borders: remains at Level 2.
Edinburgh City, Falkirk, Fife remain at Level 3.
Public Mass can continue thanks to priests and volunteers
Priests and parish volunteers' high standards of infection control means public worship and parish life can carry on, despite a rise in the rate of Covid-19 infections.
In a letter sent to Scotland’s 500 Catholic parishes, the bishops of Scotland said that Catholic churches are among the safest places to attend thanks to “meticulous” infection control and safety measures.
Bishop John Keenan, Vice President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said: “The tireless work of priests, parishioners and volunteers have ensured that Catholic churches are among the safest places for people to attend in the midst of this Pandemic.
"The bishops are urging everyone to redouble their efforts to reduce the risk of transmission and ensure that we all adhere to the infection control measures that we have put in place.”
He added: “Although no evidence has emerged of cases or clusters connected to our churches, we have every confidence that, if parishes continue their high standards of infection control, then public worship and parish life can carry on and we will continue to be able to attend to the spiritual welfare of the nation.”
“Among the many terrible effects of this pandemic is a surge in cases of depression, hopelessness and suicide. The loss of normality in all its facets has left many feeling bereft and desolate, in need of spiritual solace, like never before.
It is in times of greatest peril that we need the spiritual comfort of public worship most, now, more than ever, our church doors need to be open, so that worshipping in safety can continue.”