Churches in North voluntarily close for public worship, even as England’s stay open

The main churches in Northern Ireland have voluntarily closed their doors to public worship in view of the worsening public health crisis.

In a statement on Thursday, the North’s Catholic bishops said that for a limited period (7 January to 6 February), the celebration of the Eucharist should take place without the physical presence of the faithful – with the exception of marriages, funerals, and baptisms.

Drive-in services will however continue.

The Catholic Church was joined by the Church of Ireland, Presbyterian Church, and Methodist Church in making the move.

Meanwhile, the Diocese of Westminster insists Catholic churches are safe in the British capital after the Mayor of London called for the closure of places of worship in the city.

Bishop John Sherrington, an auxiliary in Westminster, issued a letter on Friday explaining why churches in England should remain open.

“This decision is based on two factors: The recognition that our churches are safe, and that the service they offer is essential. The safety of our churches has been affirmed by Public Health England (PHE) in its current advice to the Government,” the bishop wrote.