Why do our church leaders worship at the altar of health and safety?

May 25, 2020 by

by David Quinn, UnHerd:

All over Europe public worship has returned, or soon will, albeit with strong social distancing and hygiene measures in place. But not in Britain or Ireland. In Britain places of worship will not be allowed to open their doors again, even for private prayer, until July 4. No date for the restoration of public worship has been announced yet.

In Ireland where I live, you can wander into a church and say a prayer but public religious services won’t be back until July 20, which is one of the latest dates in Europe, despite the fact that Ireland didn’t have a severe outbreak.

The worrying thing has been the lack of push-back by Church leaders on both islands. In Ireland, there hasn’t been a peep from the Catholic hierarchy. The contrast with their counterparts else in Europe has been extremely striking.

In Italy for example, the Catholic bishops attacked Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, when he seemed to be giving low priority to a return to public Masses. Almost immediately Conte relented and Italians have been allowed to go to Mass again, with a limit on numbers, since May 18.

In France, a group of Catholics took a case to court and the court announced that public worship had to be restored again, that the Government’s ban was disproportionate. Public Masses, with proper safety measures, have been taking place again in France since Saturday.

What explains the astonishing timidity of Church leaders on these islands compared with their counterparts elsewhere? Let me offer a suggestion: they have become so attached to the idea of health and safety that all other goods have been obscured, including freedom of worship.

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