We're keeping you up-to-date with everything you need to know about COVID-19 and its impact on the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.
- Posted on this page. We're also posting regularly on Twitter and Facebook.
- The Bishop's Conference of Scotland COVID-19 parish resources can be accessed on its website bcos.org.uk.
- Parish posters Please click here to view and download a range of Covid-19 posters for printing (please consult your parish priest).
- Eventbrite A guide to using the free online event management/ticketing system is here.
- Back to Mass Guidance on returning to Mass issued by the Bishops' Conference. Click here
- Sunday Mass Available each Sunday at 9am, celebrated by Archbishop Cushley. It is posted on Facebook and on this Website.
- BCOS Booklet The Bishops' Conference of Scotland prayer booklet for when Mass cannot be celebrated publicly is available here.
- Memorare Archbishop Cushley has asked us to recite the Memorare each day to Our Lady, Health of the Sick. Click here.
- Eucharist Fasting from the eucharist, by Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI). Click here.
- Spritual Communion How to make a spiritual communion. Click here. The Value of Mass without the Congregation, click here.
- Our statement on Covid-19 and safeguarding is here.
Matthew Meade is our Director of Communications. You can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07833208211. Please approach your priest if your query relates to your parish.
Friday 07 Sep PM
FAQ: Why is the attendance figure for Masses and Baptisms 50, while weddings and funerals it's 20?
The numbers of people who can attend places of worship is dictated by the Scottish Government and the Bishops' Conference of Scotland (BCOS) agreed with this to enable Catholic churches to re-open to the public. The Scottish Government defines Mass and Baptism as Public Religious Worship events but Funerals and Weddings as Life Events. It’s only in the Catholic Church in which these are usually held within a Mass. So, in a secular society, the difference is not always understood. BCOS is pushing the Government to relax the restrictions, but as yet an increase has not be agreed.
Friday 04 Sep PM
Archbishop Cushley has updated clergy with the below details to offer clarification on the latest Covid-19 guidance for churches and church halls. Correct as of 04 September. He wrote: "Updates from the Government are being received daily, and so keeping you informed of the latest changes is a challenge, but our Archdiocesan Covid Team will seek to make sure you have the latest information as soon as is possible. With an assurance of my prayers for you and your people. Sincerely in Christ, Archbishop Leo Cushley."
This gives snapshot of the current situation.
Test and Protect Process (TPP)
This is Scotland’s version of Track & Trace and may work differently. A person who suspects they may have symptoms has the responsibility to get tested. If they do, the following will happen in the event of a positive result:
- The Test Centre will report the positive test result to the TPP.
- If they have been to Mass, the Parish will be asked to submit the contact information of those who attended within the relevant time-period and must do so by law.
- TPP will contact everyone with whom the affected person has been in contact.
- The TPP will make a judgement on who should isolate, and this may not be everyone – those who sat far away from the affected person may not have to isolate.
- The Church should temporarily close. This can be for a period of 72 hours, after which the virus will have died or for a shorter period to allow a more thorough cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces. How long this latter option will take depends on the numbers of volunteers available and so each Parish will need to make this decision.
- In the case where the Priest needs to self-isolate for a full 14 days or who contracts the virus, contact your Dean for cover.
- It is not recommended that you make a public announcement about a potential infection – this could cause anxiety and panic. The relevant parishioners will be contacted separately and privacy under GDPR will be maintained.
These are considered part of the Community Centre sector and guidance has not yet been published for this by the Scottish Government. Also, it needs to be understood that the Government sees a difference between “Regulated” and “Unregulated” premises and activities. Church Halls, and the activities therein, mostly fall into the Unregulated category and so comparisons with cafés, dance studios, gyms etc. are not relevant, because they will be covered by specific guidance for their industry. This also means that the regulations for meetings indoors govern what can be allowed to happen and, at the moment, this is still a maximum of 8 people from 3 households. Some activities for children are Regulated – such as education or childcare where these are provided by a registered provider. We are awaiting confirmed guidance about those run by the voluntary sector.
This means that all the activities we would or could hold in a Church Hall can only be held if the relevant industry sector guidance is followed. This can run to several dozens of pages of reading of legislation and therefore it would be prudent to consult the Covid Team before you commence an activity.
Numbers at Mass
BCOS is in the process of pushing the Government to allow an increase in the numbers attending Mass dependent on the size of the building. The Catholic Church throughout Scotland has shown an excellent response in re-opening Churches in a safe and controlled manner and so, it is hopeful that we will see a positive change in this area.
Wednesday 26 August PM
This Living in Faith newsletter from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, compiled by the BCOS Pastoral Ministry Working Group, provides information, advice and resources emerging from a recent survey of parishes. Read it here.
Wednesday 12 August PM
Parish Halls - advice on the reopening of parish halls can be found here. The use of Parish Halls is still very limited but Children’s Liturgy can meet during Mass if there are sufficient volunteers, time and space (from bcos.org.uk/COVID19).
Tuesday 11 August PM
Bookings for Mass: In those parishes that are 'managing' bookings for Sunday Mass and are finding themselves oversubscribed each week, consideration should be given to asking parishioners to limit themselves to booking for Sunday Mass every 2 or 3 weeks, rather than weekly. This would allow more parishioners the chance to attend Sunday Mass (from bcos.org.uk/COVID19).
Tue 28 July 2020
Ventilation: Parish Co-ordinators are reminded that church buildings should be kept well-ventilated during Mass to minimise the risks of people being in a confined space. You should consider opening doors and windows where this is feasible (from bcos.org.uk/COVID19).
Thursday 16 July PM
Archbishop Cushley and parishioners at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh featured on yesterday's Reporting Scotland, to give their reaction to public Mass resuming.
Tuesday 14 July PM
Monday 13 July AM
Update from the BCOS Covid-19 webpage
Health protocol for distribution of Holy Communion. Clergy distributing Holy Communion should:
- sanitise their hands immediately prior to distributing Holy Communion
- wear a face covering while distributing Holy Communion
- direct congregants to receive Holy Communion in their hand by stretching out their arms with one hand on top of the other, then taking steps to the side to place the host on the tongue.
Thursday 09 July AM
The First Minister has announced that places of worship can open from Wednesday 15th July for congregational worship. Here's what she said:
“After careful consideration we’ve decided that from 15th July places of worship can reopen for communal prayer, congregational services and contemplation.
However, numbers will be strictly limited, two metres’ physical distancing will be required and there will also be a requirement to collect the contact details and time of attendance of those entering a place of worship. Unfortunately, given what we know about transmission risks, singing and chanting will also be restricted. Detailed guidance is currently being finalised in consultation with our faith communities, but I hope that today’s announcement will be welcomed by all those for whom faith and worship is important and a source of comfort.
“In addition…we will also ease restrictions on attendance at ceremonies and services for funerals, weddings and civil partnerships. However, numbers will be even more limited than for worship generally and physical distancing will be required…I am acutely aware that the restrictions we have had to place on attendance of funerals have been particularly hard to bear and I am verygrateful to everyone who has complied in what I know will be heartbreaking circumstances.
“While the changes which come into effect next week (15th) will not allow full scale gatherings yet, I hope they will allow people to find solace at a time of grief while allowing more people to celebrate happy occasions such as weddings and civil partnerships.”
Wednesday 01 July AM
A new guide to using Eventbrite is available. It's a free online system which a parish can use to manage bookings for Mass when capacity is restricted. View it here.
Monday 29 June AM
VIDEO: Parishioners from St Mary's Cathedral and St Andrews Church in Edinburgh have given their response to returning to church.
It's one week since our churches could reopen for private prayer. What's been the response from parishioners in our Archdiocese?https://t.co/648FUzRUi3
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) June 29, 2020
Friday 26 June PM
St Mary's Kelso, was on ITV Borders yesterday in a report about churches reopening for private prayer. Well done Fr David and parishioners!
Monday 22 June AM
Thursday 18 June PM
The First Minister of Scotland has announced that, with effect from Monday 22nd June, churches can re-open for private prayer. More here
Monday 15 June PM
Archbishop Cushley featured on BBC Radio Scotland's Sunday Morning programme to share his thoughts on what the gradual easing of lockdown might mean for Catholic churches in Scotland. More here.
Saturday 13 June AM
Archbishop Cushley will appear on national radio tomorrow (Sunday 14 June) to discuss the reopening of Catholic churches in Scotland. More here
Friday 12 June AM
Here's our summary of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland guidance on the reopening of churches in Phase 2 of the Scottish Government's route map out of lockdown.
Wed 11 June PM
A US student stuck in St Andrews used his lockdown time to help parishes get ready for reopening - with a guide to using Eventbrite. Matthew Matisz (18), of Pittsburgh, produced simple instructions for using the free ticketing system so parishes can consider if they want to use an online method to help them regulate numbers. See the guide here. Our story here
Mon 09 June PM
Mgr Allan Chambers, of St Mary's in Bathgate, presents our 'Back to Church Basics' video. More details here.
🎦 Back to Church Basics.
Parishes are busy preparing for phased reopening. Mgr Chambers shows us what to expect.
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) June 8, 2020
Fri 05 June PM
Wed 03 June PM
The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has finalised its proposed infection control standards which will govern the reopening of parishes and confirmed that they have sent their guidelines to the Scottish Government. More here.
Tuesday 02 June 2020 (PM)
The Bishops' Conference of Scotland are meeting today to discuss the next steps in the church's approach to the safe reopening of churches. An announcemnet on this is expected tomorrow.
Thursday 28 May 2020 (PM)
Mount Vernon Cemetery in Edinburgh will re-open at weekends following the Scottish Government's announcement of the first phase in the lifting of lockdown restrictions. More here.
Wednesday 27 May 2020 (AM)
The national Covid-19 Working Group, tasked with creating protocols to govern the phased reopening of Catholic Churches in Scotland, meets today (Wednesday 27 May). More here.
Thursday 21 May 2020 (PM)
The Scottish Government has announced a four-phase "route map" towards easing the country's lockdown restrictions. This begins on 28 May. Read it here.
Today, the @scotgov announced its routemap for lifting lockdown restrictions. Phase 1 begins next Thursday.
Places of worship to open under Phase 2. pic.twitter.com/qvVTsZc8Tz
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) May 21, 2020
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today: "The route map also indicates when places of worship may re-open. It makes clear that while our current guidance on funerals - one of the most distressing and heartbreaking rules of the lockdown - remains unfortunately unchanged for now, we do hope to relax it as we move from phase one into phase two."
Sunday 17 May 2020 (PM)
People across Scotland will join together in prayer at 7pm tonight (Sunday) for the eighth consecutive week. More here.
Thursday 14 May 2020 (AM)
Infection Control and Liturgical Norms will be the focus of The Covid-19 Working Group, tasked with the creation of an Infection Control Protocol to govern the phased reopening of churches for public worship. More here.
A new Covid-19 group will examine how best to meet the long-term pastoral needs of Catholics during the current pandemic. More here.
Wednesday 13 May 2020 (PM)
Archbishop Cushley has rededicated the Archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima (13 May) as we pray for an end to the Coronavirus. Watch the video below.
Wednesday 06 May 2020 (PM)
Scotland's former chief medical officer will chair a Covid-19 working group formed by bishops as steps continue towards reopening churches. More here.
➡️ Covid-19 working group chaired by Scotland's former chief medical officer.
➡️ Reopening of churches to be "phased".
➡️ "Safe pathway to resumption of our sacramental life."https://t.co/RvvEMKHdt8
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) May 6, 2020
Monday 04 May 2020 (AM)
National media outlets reported at the weekend on plans to reopen Catholic Churches in Scotland. This story originates from a Press Association interview with Bishop John Keenan. View some of the coverage below.
Thursday 30 April 2020 (AM)
Scotland's bishops are working together with authorities in taking the next steps towards getting churches across the country safely reopened. More here.
Tuesday 28 April 2020 (PM)
A priest has revealed how a pensioner's cheeky comment sparked the idea to play his accordian on Facebook for parishioners during lockdown. More here.
Monday 27 April 2020 (AM)
We've compiled a list of ten sites we hope will help you through lockdown - offering inspiration, resources and information. Visit here.
Friday 24 April 2020 (AM)
The St Margaret’s Pilgrimage 2020 has been cancelled, but organisers are already planning to make next year’s event extra special. Read here.
Thursday 23 April 2020 (PM)
The Scottish Government's recent decision to make provision for the delivery of abortion medication by post during the coronavirus lockdown has been described as “deeply troubling.” Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, also hit out at the decision to allow women experiencing crisis pregnancies to have consultations by phone or video. Read the story here.
Wednesday 22 April 2020 (AM)
Wednesday 22 April 2020 (AM)
Priest reveals his message to couples who have had their wedding cancelled due to coronavirus. Read here
How are priests consoling disappointed couples who have had their wedding postponed by #COVID19? Fr Jamie McMorrin, of St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, explains on @BBCRadioScot pic.twitter.com/AdXgtXCrrz
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) April 21, 2020
Saturday 18 April 2020 (AM)
Churches across Scotland have joined together to issue a 'Call to Prayer' at 7pm on Sunday. Read here.
Thursday 16 April 2020 (PM)
Archbishop Leo Cushley highlights how historic differences between Christian denominations can't stop us working together, being good friends and promoting unity, particularly during the current pandemic. Read his reflection here.
Wednesday 15 April 2020 (AM)
A brilliant daily Bible resource for families with young children is being supported by Archbishop Cushley during the Covid19 lockdown.
“You are unique and God loves you.”
Tuesday 14 April 2020 (AM)
Archbishop Leo Cushley gave an Easter message of hope when he appeared on BBC1 Scotland's Reflections at the Quay on Sunday. More here.
UK Government advice on Covid19 and the importance of staying home is no available in a range of different languages. See here.
Please note that Mount Vernon Cemetery is currently closed to the public. It is operational only for funerals at this time.
Sunday 12 April 2020 (AM)
Happy Easter! For a list of suggested viewing options for today. Click here. NB Mass is on BBC1 Scotland today at 1:15pm.
Friday 10 April 2020 (AM)
The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has issued a message of hope for Easter. Read it here
Thursday 09 April 2020 (PM)
The Triduum begins as we approach Easter Sunday. Archbishop Cushley invites parishioners to view Masses streamed by their parish or to join him tonight Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord's Supper, 7pm. Good Friday, Stations of the Cross 12pm. Passion of the Lord, 3pm. Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil 8:30pm. Easter Sunday, Holy Mass 9am. View on our website in the news-events section, on YouTube or Facebook
Monday 06 April 2020 (PM)
Archbishop Leo Cushley has added his name to a statement on coronavirus on behalf of faith leaders in Scotland. Read the statement here. A statement from leaders of churches across Britain and Ireland is here.
Sunday 05 April 2020 (AM)
Friday 03 April 2020 (AM)
Archbishop Leo Cushley joined faith leaders in Scotland to call for people to look out for the most vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak. Read here.
Thursday 02 April 2020 (AM)
Holy Week is almost upon us. We've compiled a daily guide for families so that children are prepared spiritually for Easter. Find out more here.
Tuesday 31 March 2020 (AM)
Watch this morning's reflection with Sr Mary Pierre Wilson here
Monday 30 March 2020 (AM)
Archbishop Leo Cushley has announced the launch of morning video reflections for 'daily encouragement and prayer' during the coronavirus lockdown. The videos will be posted on Facebook each morning at 8am in the lead up to Easter. Read more here
Sunday 29 March 2020 (AM)
Friday 27 March 2020 (AM)
Pope Francis will pray before an empty square at St Peter's Basilica today to give a special blessing in response to the coranvirus outbreak. It takes place today at 5pm (6pm Rome) and those who participate by watching or listening live will receive a plenary indulgence.
Read our article here.
Join Pope Francis in prayer for his extraordinary “Urbi et orbi” blessing today at 5pm (6pm Rome time).
Ways to watch live ⬇️
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) March 27, 2020
Wednesday 25 March 2020 (PM)
Archbishop Cushley today highlighted on national radio how people are rising to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic with "acts of selfless love".
He spoke on BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland, to discuss how examples of good deeds and self-sacrifice are providing inspiration to millions of people across the world.
Wednesday 25 March 2020 (PM)
Archbishop Cushley has issued his latest update to priests and deacons on Covid-19 procedures. He shares the message with you here, so everyone is aware of the details they have been given. In this way we can all work together to keep safe.
Read it here.
Update Tuesday 24 March 2020 (PM)
Statement from the Bishops' Conference of Scotland:
"The outbreak of Covid 19 virus in Scotland demands from all of us a response which recognizes the serious threat to all people, especially the elderly and those with underlying illnesses, and our duty of care to them. Having given due consideration to the words of the First Minister yesterday evening, we, the Bishops of Scotland, agree that our churches should be closed during this period of national emergency for the common good. There will be no celebrations of baptism or marriage but we will continue to offer prayers for those who have died and for their families who mourn their passing. The Church is not only a building but the people of God at prayer wherever they may find themselves. We encourage all Catholics and all people of faith to pray unceasingly in their homes for our nation at this time in particular for our political leaders, our health care professionals and all those suffering from the virus. May this lived Lenten experience lead us to new life and healing at Easter."
Monday 23 March 2020 (PM)
Following tonight's announcement from the PM... pic.twitter.com/y0tbhtn3wg
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) March 23, 2020
Monday 23 March 2020 (AM)
Archbishop Cushley has praised the creative efforts of parishes who broadcast Mass on the internet on 'Stream Sunday'. Many priests, deacons and parishioners collaborated to post Holy Mass, reflections and prayers at the weekend to help people take part in an act of 'spiritual communion' in the absence of public Mass.
On Sunday, many of our parishes got online to reach out to their communities. Great to see so many working together to make this happen. pic.twitter.com/MwXoKKw4Sf
— Archbishop Leo Cushley (@leocushley) March 23, 2020
Archbishop Cushley said: "On Sunday, many of our parishes got online to reach out to their communities. It is great to see so many working together to make this happen." Our video (above) features Fr Sebastian Thurthippillil, of St Barbara's Parish in Whitburn/Armadale, demonstrating how to use Facebook live. Deacon Eddie White, of St John's & St Mary Magdalene's in Edinburgh, described the "phenomenal" response to their first stream using YouTube.
He has put together a guide on YouTube streaming. Click here to access it.
Sunday 22 March 2020
“Let my prayer come before you like incense.”
In this disturbing time for the world and for the Church, we feel the need more than ever to “lift up our hands in prayer.” Even when the Mass is not available or we are confined to home or hospital, we can still bring ourselves, and our hopes and fears, before the Lord, asking for his strength and consolation. We can remain part of the worldwide prayer of the Church, asking the Father to deliver us from our current evils, and through the practice of spiritual communion unite ourselves to the Eucharistic Sacrifice our priests will be offering privately. We can still keep the Lord’s Day holy. The prayers in below link are offered to help us do this. Surely our voice will be heard.
Click here to view the booklet
With every blessing,
+ Hugh Gilbert OSB,
Bishop of Aberdeen, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland
Friday 19 March (PM)
Q&A with Archbishop Cushley. This video was recorded AM Friday 19 March. We appreciate guidelines are changing all the time and will keep you updated.
Got a Q for Archbishop Cushley on coronavirus and its impact on our Archdiocese?
Email email@example.com pic.twitter.com/SB1ik2Y0wd
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) March 20, 2020
Wednesday 18 March 2020 (PM)
Following today's announcement that all public Masses in Scotland are to be suspended, Archbishop Cushley contacted all clergy in the Archdiocese to give further clarity. He shares the full message with you here so everyone is aware of the details our clergy have been given. In this way we can all work together to keep safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please pray for your parish priest, show them support and encouragement as they minister to us in a difficult situation.
Archbishop Cushley's message to Catholics in our Archdiocese tonight:
Following today’s announcement on the temporary suspension of public Mass, here’s my message to Catholics in our Archdiocese. pic.twitter.com/09g86OVgzr
— Archbishop Leo Cushley (@leocushley) March 18, 2020
Wednesday 18 March 2020 (AM)
The Bishops' Conference of Scotland has announced that no public Masses will be celebrated in Scotland from Friday 20 March as the coronavirus continues to spread. Read their letter here.
- Holy Mass in public suspended from Friday 20 March.
- Priests will continue to celebrate Mass in private, praying for those suffering from Covid-19 and those who care for them.
- Churches to remain open for private prayer.
- Priests asked to be available for the reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion as and when they are needed, especially for the
sick and housebound.
- Baptisms, funeral Masses and weddings - only close family are invited.
Wednesday 14 March 2020
The Archdiocese began its precautions a fortnight ago, stepping them up gradually last week and is doing so again in a measured way as part of our duty of care to parishioners.
Here are the latest guidelines for our Archdiocese:
- Do not attend Church if you are showing any symptoms at all or have been in recent contact with someone known to be a carrier.
- There is no obligation to attend Church if you are over 80 years of age or over 60 with underlying illness, or if you have very young children in your family.
- Be safe yourself, and remember your responsibility to others.
You can watch daily Mass live from St Francis Xavier's Church in Falkirk by clicking here.
Please pray for those for whom coronavirus has become a tragedy. Don’t forget those in self-isolation, especially the elderly/vulnerable. Reach out to them by phone or social media; offer help, let them know they are not forgotten.https://t.co/P9vWwNh9It
— Archbishop Leo Cushley (@leocushley) March 14, 2020
In order to combat the coronavirus, Archbishop Leo Cushley has made it mandatory that clergy and the faithful of the Archdiocese put in place the following measures:
- Holy Communion to be received in the hand, avoiding physical contact;
- Holy Communion may be received on the tongue as long as the Communicant presents in such a way that the Sacred Host can be placed on the tongue without contact;
- Reception of the Precious Blood from the Chalice to be suspended;
- Holy water stoups to be emptied;
- The Sign of Peace to be omitted or replaced with another gesture, such as a slight bow of the head, avoiding physical contact;
- Clergy and Extraordinary Ministers to wash their hands or use sanitising gel before and after the distribution of Holy Communion.
Archbishop Cushley is reminding us all to follow guidelines from health authorities and to look out for the vulnerable in our communities.
He added: “Along with our Holy Father Pope Francis, please pray for those for whom this has become a tragedy. Don’t forget those in self-isolation, especially the elderly and vulnerable. Please reach out to them either by phone or social media; offer help, and let them know they are not forgotten.”
These measures are temporary and are offered in view of our responsibility for each other’s health. They will be reviewed again at Easter.