Covid-19: A Crisis for the Church

WHILE NOT DARING to speak for prelates, I feel fairly confident in saying that the Covid-19 pandemic caught most parochial clergy off-guard, and monasteries too. Witness the mad scramble to make provision for a congregation not merely forbidden from attending Mass, but from even entering their churches. (This raises the question of the purpose of our church buildings and to whom, at least morally, they belong, and to what degree we are accountable to God for their use; but that is not for now.)

The move to restrict the liturgy was no doubt a justifiable one. But the move to shut the churches completely came not from the government but from at least some of our own bishops has left many people disturbed. The government had been prepared to exempt churches but it was the bishops’ conference that approached the government asking for churches to be closed. It remains to be shown how an empty church with no more than a handful of people in private prayer, able effortlessly to practise social distancing, is more dangerous than a supermarket.

So, many of us have found ways to stream our daily Mass to allow parishioners, not excluding others of course, some sort of access to the “source and summit” of the Christian life, and a type of access also to their church. Given the age profile of many parishes, this has been of limited benefit in practice, but better than nothing. Some have been able to spend money on the necessary equipment, while others have made do; I use an old phone with a decent camera propped up on a Lenten offering stand. We have had to learn how to arrange things so that everything is at hand and visible in one frame, as there is no one to move the camera during the Mass. Continue reading “Covid-19: A Crisis for the Church”


Today is the Feast of our Lady of the Rosary, a.k.a our Lady of Victory. The feast marks the day the outnumbered fleet of the Holy League defeated the mighty fleet of the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, a crucial victory in stemming the growing tide of militant Islamic expansion into Europe. In our day, with Christians increasingly persecuted by militant Muslims, Lepanto and this feast have a a particular resonance. Its main message for us of course is that our greatest weapon against any evil is prayer, not least prayer to and with our Lady.

One very Christian country in which Catholics are facing terror from Muslim separatists is the Philippines. It is a country with a wonderful tradition and culture, but also significant poverty.

My spiritual son (**ahem**…. well, I baptized him at least!), Dr Stephen Bullivant, has pledged to run his first full marathon this New Year’s Eve, and while he runs he shall pray the rosary non-stop. He is seeking sponsorship in order to raise money for a charity supporting street children in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

If you could spare even only a couple of pounds, then please do contribute. It would be a worthy tribute to our Lady of the Rosary, and a sign of our faith in action. He has a Facebook page for his Marython, or you can go straight to the donation page.

Stephen lectures in theology at St Mary’s University College (SMUC), Strawberry Hill (Twickenham), and though a mere bairn he is already married with a daughter. Tonight at SMUC is launched his new book, Faith and Unbelief: A Theology of Atheism, which seeks to equip Christians with a modern and authentically Catholic approach to engaging with the atheism that now pervades our culture and society. As such it is far more accessible than standard academic theology. It seems a very timely release in these last weeks of the Year of Faith.

Dr Bullivant with the tools for his Marython.
Dr Bullivant with the tools for his Marython.