Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto.

Expect a ’new reality’ when churches allowed to open, says Cardinal Collins

  • May 8, 2020

While restrictions are expected to remain in place for the immediate future, preparations are under way for a time when churches will re-open, Cardinal Thomas Collins wrote in a pastoral letter.

Released May 7, the letter predicted “a phased approach, a gradual return to public celebration of the sacraments.”

“Even then, our new reality in church may be different from what we were accustomed to in the past, with some continuing precautions, since we want to resume public gatherings in a way that does not lead to a re-igniting of the pandemic,” wrote the Toronto archbishop.

The cardinal said the archdiocese has established working groups “to determine how we will proceed.”

“We want to ensure that everyone can worship in a safe environment,” he said. “We are looking at best practices in other places, working with medical experts and consulting to determine what to do in the days ahead, recognizing the geographical and physical diversity of our more than 200 parishes.”

He said the archdiocese is looking at “best practices” and working with medical experts to determine ways to resume church activities in environments that keep people safe.

“We need to resume public worship, as soon as it can safely be done, and according to a plan co-ordinated with the public health authorities,” he said.

The letter reminded Catholics that, through history, there have been other times when Catholics were denied the sacraments, due to plagues or persecution dating back to the Roman Empire. Although Catholics have a duty to resist unjust action to restrict access to the sacraments, in an extreme medical emergency such as the current pandemic, political and health officials have a “duty of responsibility for the common good by issuing reasonable instructions to the whole populace, based upon well-founded medical principles regarding the best way to combat pestilence.”

Although safety measures seem to indicate progress is being made in reducing new cases of the COVID-19 virus, “we are no means clear of the plague,” said the cardinal. Continuing to follow restrictions is a matter of faith, charity and justice.

“We should also recall that we Christians defend the sanctity of human life from the first moment of conception until natural death: in a time of pestilence, that commitment of ours requires us to follow the reasonable norms designed to protect the lives of those around us,” Collins said.

These difficult days should be a time of prayer and a time “to find creative ways to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.”

The full letter can be found here:

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