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Bishop Philip EganPhilip Egan / Twitter

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UNITED KINGDOM, April 20, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic bishop in England has questioned the wisdom of churches being closed during the ongoing nationwide lockdown throughout the United Kingdom.

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth tweeted yesterday: “On this Divine Mercy Sunday I wonder again about the closure of our churches for private prayer. I know it’s an emergency and so temporary measures are needed. But are we reversing the hierarchy of values, putting physical health above spiritual? Let’s pray we can reopen soon.”

The Catholic bishops prohibited the celebration of public Masses before the lockdown came into force and according to their own statement played a crucial role themselves in convincing the government to require that churches be closed altogether.

The tweet received a mixed response from users of the social media platform. One Twitter user endorsed the church closures, saying that the Church “must lead the way in protecting life and saving lives” and ”must also lead the way in lessening the burden on healthcare workers.”

Another user called on Egan to take action himself, saying: “Open our churches! It is your duty. For God's sake and ours do your duty!!!!”

That tweet was followed up by the Twitter account of Rorate Caeli, the popular Catholic blog, which posted: “This is quite obvious. Send a note to the government announcing you will reopen the churches under your jurisdiction on Day ‘D’ and do it…’We ought to obey God rather than men.’”

Earlier this month the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales issued guidance to hospital chaplains suggesting that priests make themselves available by telephone, rather than attend to dying patients in person due to the “escalation of the Coronavirus.”

LifeSite has written to Bishop Egan to ask if in light of his tweet he is planning to reopen his churches for private prayer. No response was given by time of publication.


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