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World News

Christians urged to have their say on church closures for Covid inquiry

by Heather Preston

The Catholic Union has produced a new survey to highlight the impact of church closures during the pandemic.

The study will allow Christians to share their personal experiences and will contribute to the body’s submission to the ongoing UK Covid-19 public inquiry.

Catholic Union Vice President, Baroness Hollins stressed the “vital importance” of considering the decision to close places of worship as part of inquiry’s investigations.

Following the decision to close places of worship during the 2020 Covid lockdowns, the Catholic Union led the charge to reopen church buildings in the later stages of the pandemic. It’s letter, signed by over 100 MPs and peers effectively spared churches in England from being shut over Christmas in 2020.

In Scotland, the Court of Session ruled that the prolonged closure of places of worship was ultimately unlawful in a landmark decision in March 2021.

The EU’s former Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figel has called such closures “profoundly illiberal and illegitimate” and legally challenged the ban of in-person church services in Slovakia during the pandemic.

The Catholic Union hopes the UK survey will help contribute to better decision-making in the event of a future pandemic including a legal presumption against closing places of worship.

Catholic Union Vice President, Baroness Hollins, said: “At a time when our churches were most needed, their doors were locked. I know many people found this extremely difficult. It is vitally important that this public inquiry considers the full range of impacts caused by the pandemic, including the decision to close places of worship so that we can learn valuable lessons for the future.”

Catholic Union Director, Nigel Parker has encouraged all Catholics to take part in the survey to ensure their voices are considered as part of the inquiry.

The survey is available on the Catholic Union’s website.

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