NSW bishops ask for 'soft opening' of churches

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP (ACBC/Giovanni Portelli Photography)

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has written to Premier Gladys Berejiklian on behalf of the New South Wales bishops, imploring her to begin lifting restrictions on gatherings for the purpose of religious worship. Source: The Australian.

By Lachlan Moffet Gray, The Australian

In a pastoral letter, Archbishop Fisher said that not being able to physically gather for worship is “hard” as “our religion is so sacramental, physical, palpable.”

“On behalf of the Bishops of New South Wales, the clergy and the lay faithful I’ve written to the Premier pressing the case for the reopening of churches, initially for private prayer and confession,” the Archbishop wrote.

“It’s likely that such a ‘soft opening’ will happen before we can resume public Masses.

“And whether it’s for prayers or Mass, we are determined to abide by government directives regarding numbers, density (or distancing) and hygiene. Over these weeks we’ve demonstrated an admirable ability to adapt as necessary!”

The letter, available on the Sydney Archdiocese’s website, is Archbishop Fisher's fourth pastoral letter to the people of Sydney since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic began.

He says he has been “hugely encouraged” that thousands of Catholics are still participating in Masses online while churches are closed and “making a spiritual communion where they cannot make a sacramental one”.

“If ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, it may be that, rather than becoming accustomed to doing Church from home, our hunger for the Eucharist will intensify and make us value all the more gathering for it when at last we can. In the meantime, we’ve been given a time of retreat to meditate upon what Holy Communion means to us all, and we’ve been given new opportunities and new pastoral strategies.”

FULL STORY

Coronavirus Australia live update (The Australian)

Fourth Pastoral Letter to the Clergy, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Archdiocese of Sydney during this time of COVID-19 Pandemic (Sydney Archdiocese)

RELATED COVERAGE

Archbishop presses for church closures to be reversed (The Catholic Weekly

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