With great joy – albeit with a bit of trepidation – we look forward to the reopening of our churches for the sacred Liturgy this
weekend and also Ordinations and other events too! More in e-News: https://mailchi.mp/portsmouthdiocese/issue282
May God bless you, granting you all a deeper faith and joy.
It’s great news that our churches are now gradually reopening, although
this is a process that will vary from place to place. It depends on everyone’s generosity. Read more in this week's e-News:
I wish you a blessed few days ahead, safe and sound.
From Bishop Philip
It looks as if the government is set to allow the reopening of our churches, perhaps from
next week (15th June). As I have said before, I reluctantly went along with the mandate to close our churches back in March, in part because of the safety aspects and in part not to be out of step
with other dioceses. However, I have always felt it was not a right decision, especially given that shops, newsagents and even off-licenses were open. First, humans are natively spiritual persons,
with emotional, mental and psychological needs and a pandemic with a major lockdown is surely just the time when people need to visit and pray in a church? And secondly, for Catholics, a church is
not simply a ‘place of worship’: it’s the place where Jesus Christ is really and truly present among His people feeding and healing them in the Sacraments, instructing them with His Word and caring
for them with His love. Consequently, I have been actively supporting the Bishops’ Conference in its efforts towards (safe) reopening and I wrote to the Secretary of State and to all 34 MPs in our
Diocese to enlist their support. In the Diocese, our Crisis Management Team has drafted guidelines for parishes to reopen churches for private prayer (Phase One) and for the public celebration of the
Sacred Liturgy (Phase Two). What is clear is that as in other sectors of life - transport, shops, work - reopening our churches, while COVID-19 remains a threat, is do-able but will not be easy.
Local arrangements and resources will vary and it might be a while before some churches can reopen. In Guernsey, churches have already been reopened and so we will have much to learn from the
experience of Fr. Bruce and the parishioners there. Those who are sick and those in the “vulnerable” category will be asked not to enter. Arrangements in churches will need to be in place with
stewards to ensure hygiene and social distancing. Your parish will need you to help and volunteer! Many other arrangements will need to be put in place, especially when eventually the celebration of
the Liturgy resumes. Please keep this matter in your prayers. We want our churches to reopen (safely) as soon as possible. Let us ask the Lord for a speedy end to the pandemic and for His guidance at
this difficult time.
Catholics admitted to Hospitals
It is important when a Catholic is admitted to hospital, the family ensure that the Catholic
Chaplaincy is contacted so that appropriate support can be given. As access to the hospital may be restricted, it is suggested that the patient have a note to give to hospital staff on admission
notifying staff that they are Catholic and would appreciate the Catholic chaplaincy service. This could be followed up by a telephone call from the family to the ward making the request.
14th April, Bishop Philip writes...
A very happy Easter to you! For us as Catholics, this Holy Week and Easter have been like no other. We’ve not been able to go into
church let alone celebrate the Mass and the dramatic liturgies of the sacred Triduum. Even so, I’m amazed and grateful at the creative ideas of our clergy and parishioners in order to keep in touch.
Many parishes have taken to live streaming the liturgy or emailing parishioners or even taking to the simple ministry of the telephone. Our schools too – teachers, governors and pupils – have been
doing some amazing work supporting the families of front-line workers and also those who are vulnerable, poor and alone. The coronavirus crisis is a wake-up call for us all. I am saddened to hear of
the medics who have died after contracting it. Again, the other day in the supermarket, many of the shelves were empty. Much of normal life is now disrupted and we wonder when and even whether things
will ever be the same again. Yet this is why as Christians our faith and example is crucial. We need to pray for an end to the virus, for the sick and those who care for them, and for those who have
died. But more, we need to assure people of God’s love for them: that He is on our side and offering us His grace. And we need to communicate His love: that Jesus Christ His Son gave His life for us
on the Cross and promises us resurrection and new life. Meanwhile, once again, Happy Easter! May God fill you with deeper faith, with His love and with joy. Thank you, clergy and people of the
Diocese of Portsmouth, for your witness and example at this difficult time. With the strength of the Lord in our hearts, let's keep up the good work of Bringing People Closer to Jesus Christ through
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I am truly heartened by the Good News the e-news contains, and not least the creative response of our clergy and people to the
current crisis. Our schools and our parishes are doing an amazing job in the circumstances. Many people across the Diocese are doing their best to assist, to pray, to keep people connected, to serve
the needy, to look after the elderly and vulnerable, to offer live streaming, to care for the lonely etc. It is a huge testimony of faith. Heartfelt thanks to everyone on behalf of the Lord! The
message of faith, hope and love that we Catholics bear – the Good News – is so necessary for our society at this time. Many people are anxious and finding it difficult to cope. So let us keep
ourselves focused on the presence of the Lord and His grace. Let us keep close to Him and to the sources of our faith. Let’s follow devotedly the death and resurrection of Our Lord and Saviour over
these coming days. And let us continue to beg Him for a speedy end to the coronavirus scourge, praying for the sick, for those who care for them and for those who have died. Finally, please continue
financially to support the work of the Church in our diocese, its parishes and communities. I wish you - when it comes next weekend - a very Happy Easter.
Message from Bishop Philip
"The COVID-19 pandemic is causing us all great harm, disruption and
anxiety. As Catholics, we must tackle this crisis with spiritual as well as human resources. God’s Word is being proclaimed. The Sacraments are available and pastoral care to God’s people in their
need is being offered. Although we cannot gather for public liturgies, we must pray.
Let us pray earnestly. Let us pray for a speedy solution, for those who
are sick, for the protection of the elderly and the vulnerable, for those in self-isolation, for all who are suffering anxiety and worry, for the homeless and needy, for the well-being and financial
security of all, for the NHS medical staff and all who care for the sick, and for the repose of those who have died. Let us turn with confidence to God our father, invoking the intercession of our
patron saints, Mary Immaculate, St. Edmund of Abingdon and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. May St. Michael and our Guardian Angels protect us."
DEI ET APOSTOLICAE SEDIS GRATIA
EPISCOPUS PORTUS MAGNI
Further Measures in Response to the Challenge of the
DECREE 24th March 2020
In response to new government restrictions for the sake of public health and safety, the
following measures are to be put in place with immediate effect.
These measures are to be read in conjunction with those put in place by the Decree of
19th March 2020, and in some cases modify or supersede them.
1. Churches. All
churches and chapels in the Diocese of Portsmouth are to be closed with immediate effect until further notice. Priests will continue to say a daily Mass but without the faithful
2. Baptisms. Baptisms are to be deferred until a time when the government signals that people can gather again safely. In danger of death,
baptisms may be celebrated privately with the necessary hygiene precautions and with strictly limited attendance.
Weddings are to be deferred until a time when the government signals that people can gather again safely.
4. Sacraments to the Sick and the
Dying. It may no longer be possible to administer the Sacraments upon request except to those in danger.
Visits by the clergy to such people, especially when in care homes and hospitals,
will need to follow the advice of those on infection control.
The Further Guidelines attached to the Decree of 19th March 2020, even if modified in the
light of the latest government advice, remain in place, especially the need for the laity to avail themselves of alternatives to attending Mass, the necessity of prayer, concern for the
needy and the importance of materially supporting the Church.
Given on this 24th March
Bishop of Portsmouth