UK govt considers expanding Sunday shopping, continuing ban on public church services

UK govt considers expanding Sunday shopping, continuing ban on public church services

The U.K. government is reportedly considering a plan to suspend COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday shopping hours. This comes at a time while the public celebration of Mass is still prohibited due to the pandemic, despite churches being allowed to open for private prayer on June 15.

Reports in the U.K. media yesterday claim that a YouGov poll that questioned 4,300 British adults indicates that a majority of the general public are in favor of the move, which is being touted as a way to boost the economy after the coronavirus lockdown.

Meanwhile, the government has said the public celebration of Mass and other public services will not be permitted to occur when churches and other places of worship are allowed to reopen for private prayer on June 15.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the U.K. lobby group Christian Concern, has challenged the idea that shops will be allowed to open for longer hours while churches will still see their activities restricted.

“This restriction on church ministry is unprecedented,” Williams said. “The government should not be criminalising prayer meetings, church services or sacraments.”

“Churches can easily be made safer than supermarkets, but the government does not trust churches enough to even allow small-scale informal prayer meetings with appropriate precautions,” a Christian Concern press statement reads.

In an open letter published last month, Catholic clergy led by former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Cardinals Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Joseph Zen, and Janis Pujats reminded politicians around the world that “[t]he State has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the Church.”

“This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as Pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, just as we claim absolute autonomy in matters falling within our immediate jurisdiction, such as liturgical norms and ways of administering Communion and the Sacraments,” the signatories stated.