The sudden announcement that tough restrictions are being introduced in the UK this Christmas to curb the spread of the coronavirus, has been described by church leaders as “a bitter blow”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Bishop of London Sarah Mullaly, issued a joint statement warning that people may not feel it is safe to worship, even though it is allowed. And clergy and others who are shielding should “certainly feel no compulsion”.
“We are grateful that, even in tier four, church buildings can be open this Christmas. But we urge everyone to take precautions and, especially for those in tier four, to be exceptionally careful”.
In a BBC interview, Justin Welby acknowledged that the restrictions would bring “the most intense pain” to many people as plans are cancelled.
He advised those who have been bereaved to share memories of their loved ones and make plans for future celebrations, as in this way they will find healing.
Both leaders said people must commit to looking out for those who are alone, caring for those in need and praying for the nation and the world.
And both attempted an upbeat positive note that the pandemic is nearing the end, with a vaccine being rolled out and treatments improving