The following announcement was made on Wednesday 18 March by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales:
“It’s very clear that following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20 March 2020, until further notice.
Although we won’t be gathering for public acts of worship, our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength.
In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.
However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.”
A letter from Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, was issued today, alongside this announcement and can be read here. Please do take a moment to read this.
At this time let us pray the prayer that Pope Francis composed for all those who suffer because of the Coronavirus:
O Mary, you shine continuously on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick.
At the foot of the Cross you participated in Jesus’ pain,
with steadfast faith.
You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need.
We are certain that you will provide, so that,
as you did at Cana of Galilee,
joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the Father’s will
and to do what Jesus tells us:
He who took our sufferings upon Himself, and bore our sorrows to bring us, through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection. Amen.
We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.
Do not despise our pleas – we who are put to the test – and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.