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Cardinal Vincent Nichols announcing the closure of churches in March 2020CBCEW screenshot

WESTMINSTER, U.K. (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) announced that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass will be reinstated for the first time since March 2020.

In a press release published May 9 and signed on the last day of the bishops’ 2022 spring plenary May 6, the CBCEW announced the reinstatement of the obligation for Catholics to attend Sunday Mass. The obligation was temporarily suspended March 18 at the outset of the Church’s own COVID-19 restrictions in the country.

“Most people have resumed the wide range of normal activities, no longer restricted by the previous Covid measures,” the assembled bishops noted. 

“We therefore believe that the reasons which have prevented Catholics from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation no longer apply,” they wrote.

The “‘Virtual viewing’ of Mass online does not fulfil the Sunday Obligation,” stated the CBCEW, adding that live-streamed Masses may be “a source of continual spiritual comfort to those who cannot attend Mass in person, for example those who are elderly and sick, for whom the obligation does not apply.”

The Church’s Canon Law 1247 obliges Catholics “to participate in the Mass … on Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.” 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church subsequently adds exceptions to this prescription: “unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.”

The CBCEW statement did not present a definitive date on which the 2020 removal of the Sunday obligation would end. However, the statement appeared to present the feast of Pentecost as a day on which all Catholics in England and Wales should consider the obligation to be reinstated: 

Looking forward to the forthcoming feast of Pentecost, we now invite all Catholics who have not yet done so to return to attending Mass in person.

The Scottish Bishops’ Conference, led by Bishop Hugh Gilbert, already reinstated the Sunday obligation beginning March 6, 2022, which had also been suspended since the outset of COVID restrictions in 2020.

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PETITION: Stop India's anti-conversion laws against Christians
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SIGN this petition calling on Indian legislators to protect Christians from unjust anti-conversion laws. 

Christians are being attacked relentlessly by violent Hindus in India, but some Indian states are compounding this persecution by jailing those accused of converting Hindus to Christ. 

Using "anti-conversion laws", eight Indian states have outlawed any attempt by minority faiths such as Christianity to convert members of the majority Hindu population.   

Please tell Indian legislators that their anti-conversion laws must be scrapped.

Christians know that, like St. Paul who himself was jailed (2 Tim 2:8-10), we cannot remain silent in announcing Christ to unbelievers (Acts 5:17-26), but our Indian brothers and sisters in faith are being imprisoned on trumped up charges when they have not violated any of these unjust laws.

Legislators in eight Indian states have created vaguely-worded "anti-conversion laws", leaving the door wide open to minorities being accused of "allurement" or "coercion" when sharing their faith with Hindus. 

The wording often states that "no person should convert or attempt to convert, either directly or indirectly, any person from one religion to another by use of force or by allurement or by any fraudulent means".

The states of Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand have already introduced these laws, with several more expected to follow.

Legislators have ignored the fact Christians are entirely opposed to forced conversions or deception, instead bowing to the demands of Hindu extremists worried that Christ is winning the hearts of Indians long maltreated in the inhumane caste system.

The false allegations of coercion made against Christians have resulted in the widespread persecution of believers across the country.

SIGN and SHARE this petition calling on Indian legislators to protect Christians from unjust anti-conversion laws. 

As K.V. Turley reported on LifeSiteNews, one reason Christians and other minorities are persecuted is because of the growing popularity of the nationalist Hindutva ideology.

This ideology demands a Hindu-only India, resulting in sustained violence against those who would lead Hindus to Christ. 

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, then-General Secretary of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, said as early as 2018 that even members of the ruling Barathiya Janata Party (BJP) are "using false accusations to incite hate. And nobody in their party or in the government is revoking their problematic statements.”

The latest anti-conversion bill is set to be passed in Karnataka state, where Christians will face jail terms of up to 10 years if found guilty of converting others by alleged "force", "fraudulent methods", or as a result of marriage.

Karnataka has seen a significant increase in Hindu attacks on Christian priests, pastors and laity, with the BBC reporting at least one violent incident in 21 out of 31 districts. 

Please SIGN to help almost 30 million Christians, who make up less than 2.5% of the Indian population, live in peace. 

Right-wing Hindu radicals are known to barge into houses or churches where prayer sessions are conducted and demand the identity of those in attendance. 

If Hindus are in the audience, conversion charges are pressed and the pastors are arrested. The onus of proof is on the pastors, catechists or priests.

Another issue is that Catholic priests, brothers and nuns teach, educate and empower the dalits (untouchables), the tribals and the poor. These then stand up for their rights, which is not pleasing to many politicians.

This petition will be sent to the Indian ambassadors to the USA and Canada, the Ambassador at Large of the United States for International Religious Freedom, the High Representative of the EU's Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the president of India's ruling BJP party.

Indian legislators must be convinced to stop treating minorities with such contempt - speak up on their behalf now by signing the petition.

For More Information: 

Blind couple in India was stripped and beaten for being Christian. Their six-year-old saw it all

Indian archbishop condemns government’s demolition of Jesus statue

Open Doors UK - Christian persecution in India

ACN: Catholic priest condemns Indian government's inaction

**Photo Credit: Video screenshot of a statue of Christ about to be destroyed by authorities in Karnataka on February 14, 2022**

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Beginning March 20, 2020, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales prohibited the celebration of public Masses before the lockdown came into force on March 23 and, according to their own statement, played a crucial role themselves in convincing the government to require that churches be closed altogether. 

Once Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the nationwide lockdown on March 23, Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, president of the CBCEW, announced that Catholic churches would not even be open for private prayer, saying, “It’s not essential for people to travel to go to church in order to pray.”

“Open churches will only tempt people to travel,” the cardinal said. “And that is not good practice now.”

READ: English churches banned Masses, but ‘support groups,’ blood donations are allowed

In the wake of the lockdowns and church closures, Shrewsbury Bishop Mark Davies petitioned the UK government for “financial assistance,” given the “dramatic fall of about a third in parish income.”

Once the churches reopened in summer 2020, the CBCEW released guidance for the resumption of the public celebration of Mass, which included members of the congregation wearing face coverings, allowing Holy Communion only in the hand while standing, not allowing congregational singing, and encouraging those who receive Communion to leave the church immediately after Mass.


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