In his homily for Pentecost Sunday, Cardinal Vincent questions why churches are not being allowed to reopen.
Comparing the faithful to the disciples who waited in the Upper Room for the coming of the Holy Spirit, he says: 'We, too, are waiting to open these doors, the doors of our churches.'
The government's decision to allow 'some indoor sales premises' to open on 1st June and most shops to open on 15th June, he says 'questions directly the reasons why our churches remain closed.'
Since the start of the lockdown, the role of faith in our society has been made clearer, he says: 'as a motivation for the selfless care of the sick and dying; as providing crucial comfort in bereavement; as a source of immense and effective provision for those in sharp and pressing need; as underpinning a vision of the dignity of every person, a dignity that has to be at the heart of the rebuilding of our society.'
He adds that 'the opening of churches, even for individual prayer, helps to nurture this vital contribution to our common good.'
Acutely aware of the importance of opening churches safely, the Cardinal stresses that we 'are confident that we can do so. We have developed expert guidance. We are ready to follow the Government's guidelines as soon as they are finalised.'
He questions the 'risk to a person who sits quietly in a church which is being thoroughly cleaned, properly supervised and in which social distancing is maintained.'
He notes that the 'benefits of being able to access places of prayer is profound, on individual and family stability and, significantly, on their willingness to help others in their need.'