Shrewsbury Cathedral to livestream Mass amid coronavirus pandemic
Shrewsbury Cathedral is to live-stream Masses via the internet following a decision by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to suspend all public services amid the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
The bishop have announced that after today, Friday 20th March, the public celebrations of Masses will be suspended until further notice. Churches will be encouraged to remain open for quiet individual prayer and confessions will be available.
The Church is attempting to slow the spread of Covid-19, in the light of government advice, and also to protect the elderly and other vulnerable people whose lives may be particularly in danger if they contracted the virus.
It means that for the first time in the 170-year history of the Diocese of Shrewsbury – which extends from Merseyside and Greater Manchester, through Cheshire and all of Shropshire – public Masses will not be celebrated in any churches or chapels on Sundays or any other days of the week.
The diocese will, however, live-stream via the internet Masses and other services throughout the day led by the bishop and priests of the Shrewsbury Cathedral and in a number of parish churches.
The website of the Diocese of Shrewsbury is being redesigned to include a highly prominent portal from where Catholics can watch and take part remotely in the Mass and seven other daily services from the comparative safety of their homes from Sunday 22nd March.
Besides the Mass, the daily programme will include Morning Prayer, the Rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Evening and Night Prayer, Benediction and a blessing for those who are sick.
The live-streaming service will provide the opportunity for the faithful to practise ‘spiritual communion’ at a time when they are physically unable to receive Holy Communion from a priest during Mass. The redesigned website will also provide news and information for the faithful in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It is with sadness that we will see the many thousands of people who come together for Mass every Sunday unable to gather in worship at this time,” said the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies.
“However, at Shrewsbury Cathedral we will be live streaming Masses and services via the internet from 6.45am in the morning until 8.30pm night throughout every day of this health crisis.
“We will also seek wherever possible not to close our church doors but to open the churches to be places of quietness and prayer. I hope in these ways we can stay together and see this troubled time as a renewed call to prayer.”
Catholics will still be able to go to confession during the pandemic when social-distancing requirements are observed, but baptisms, First Holy Communions, confirmations, weddings are to be deferred until restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly are eased.
Priests may provide the Sacrament of the Sick to those afflicted during the pandemic as long as no direct physical contact is made.
Funerals will be carried out only at either gravesides or crematoria and not inside churches until the crisis is over. Requiem Masses will eventually be offered in memory of the people who died during the pandemic once congregations are permitted to assemble again.
During the crisis, the Diocese of Shrewsbury will continue to provide other pastoral support and Bishop Davies has also invited individual Catholics to respond to the pandemic with acts of charity and selflessness.
In a pastoral letter last Sunday, the bishop encouraged the faithful to show active solidarity with the elderly, the weak and the homeless.
He said Christianity demonstrated how “perfect love can overcome fear” and he denounced the “ugly scenes of panic-buying” which, he said, might provide some of the most needy and vulnerable people of basic necessities.
The bishop instead appealed to the “calm, good order and sense of duty” that have been among the characteristic virtues of the British people and would help them to care for one another.
No-one, he said, can be beyond the care and charity of Christians during the pandemic. Even self-isolation could be offered as an act of love for one’s neighbour, the bishop said, adding that the crisis was an occasion to live the faith more deeply.
Picture: The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies. (Diocese of Shrewsbury).
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