Coronavirus and religion – update 24 March

By Lianne Kolirin

  • The British Covid-19 lockdown began this morning – and that means all weddings and baptisms will be suspended. The emergency measures will initially be implemented for three weeks but could be extended. All public gatherings with more than two people have been banned. Funerals are permitted to go ahead.
  • The Lambeth Conference, due to take place in Canterbury over July and August, has been been postponed until 2021. The conference, based at Kent University, is usually attended by bishops from every province in the Anglican Communion. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby confirmed the “difficult decision” in a letter to participants on Monday. In a video message, he said: “So that we may be good shepherds as bishops in the Anglican world, and to encourage the Church to be there for God’s suffering world, we have decided to reschedule and postpone the conference.” The event next year will take place “in a world reshaped by what is going on at the moment”, said the archbishop, who pointed out that the conference had been delayed twice before – after both world wars. “Both of them having seen terrible events, God send that we do not see anything like that,” he added.
  •  Sixty Italian priests have died amid coronavirus outbreak, as priests tell them to be brave and visit the sick.
  • Legislation on enforced cremation will now be amended to respect the strict laws around burial in the Jewish and Muslim faiths. see our separate report here 
  • Jewish leaders fear ultra-orthodox Jews have missed the message of isolation. Some synagogues have remained open in Stamford Hill, north London – which is home to a large Haredi population – despite warnings to close from religious leaders and public health experts. The Union of Hebrew Congregations last week circulated guidance last week suggesting that women, children and “elderly and weaker men with health disabilities” should stay away, but not men in good health.
  • The Kashrut authority, which enforces Jewish dietary laws,  has relaxed its requirements for Passover. The festival, which begins on the evening of April 8, will fall within the three-week lockdown ordered by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, last night. It does not, however, mean that bread – which is the main restricted item – can be consumed.
  • The Chief Rabbi unveils coronavirus prayer to recite at home:
  • Dayan Rabbi Yehuda Yaakov Refson, the most senior rabbi in Leeds, has died after contracting Covid-19.