St Patrick’s and St Michael’s, Dumbarton, and St Joseph’s, Helensburgh.

By Peter Kearney

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has finalised its proposed infection control standards which will govern the reopening of parishes and confirmed that they have sent their guidelines to the Scottish Government.

This means that in the next phase of lockdown local Catholic churches – and most probably Church of Scotland places of worship and those of all other religious denominations – will be able to open too.

Only however if the public do as they are asked and refrain from flouting the guidelines laid down by the Scottish government.

Commenting on the progress being made towards parish reopening, the President of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, said: “A great deal of work has been done to provide guidance and support to clergy as they prepare for the phased reopening of our parishes.

“The guidelines have been prepared to reflect advice given in the Scottish Government’s Route Map on the gradual removal of restrictions.

“The Bishops’ Conference continue to engage with the Scottish Government and have today (Wednesday 3 June) sent a copy of the guidance document to them.”

Bishop Gilbert added: “We would hope to be able to issue our infection control and liturgical guidelines within the coming week.

“They will highlight the fact that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains dispensed until further notice and everyone is asked to consider carefully whether or not they should return in the early phases.

“We are mindful of our duty of care to elderly clergy and lay people, which together with social distancing reductions in capacity will mean that the availability of Mass may reduce in some areas.” 

Bishop Gilbert quoted the words of Pope Francis in his brief statement: “We are asked, in the words of Pope Francis to show “wisdom, foresight, and common commitment, so that all the efforts and sacrifices made so far will not be in vain.

“We hope that this pandemic will “stimulate our creativity, our ingenuity, and our ability to respond”, in a way that helps us “on the path of praise of the Lord and service to our brothers and sisters”.

Bishops at Bellahouston

A gathering of bishops during a Papal Visit to Glasgow. Picture by Bill Heaney

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