Former royal chaplain says UK bishops spearheaded coronavirus church closures
UNITED KINGDOM, April 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A former Anglican bishop and chaplain to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has accused Catholic and Anglican bishops of being responsible for the closure of churches in the U.K. during the nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus.
Gavin Ashenden, who was received into the Catholic Church in December last year, told the Sunday edition of The Nigel Farage Show on LBC that he is “halfway between cross and distraught” at the church closures.
“To have the churches closed at this particular place seems to me to be the height of irresponsibility. And what makes me cross is, it’s not the government that did it. It was the church leaders, the bishops of both, I’m afraid, the Catholic and also the Anglican churches who I think in order to, well, who knows what their motives were?” Ashenden said.
Ashenden said the church closures deprived people of the opportunity to be “fully responsible” in a time of serious tragedy.
“It’s not just our lives; it’s the lives of people we love — the whole community has been devastated by this, and people will want to pray and to try to make sense of it,” he continued.
“We’re meaning-seeking creatures, human beings, we have to live with meaning, and when a pandemic like this strikes us, it undermines the meaning that we thought we had, and we need to go deeper. That’s what the Church is for.”
Ashenden said there is no reason why social distancing couldn’t be observed in a church.
“When I go and I need food, I queue up at the local supermarket, and everyone’s pretty confident that the social distancing measures that we’re taking are adequate and they work very well,” he said.
“Of all the places you could be where social distancing is likely to work, church is one of them — they’re not full places. At a time like this above all, the one place that should be available is the church, where people can go in and begin to try the process of finding who God is, working out more of what their lives mean.”
Farage, who in addition to leading the Brexit Party hosts his regular radio show on LBC, said he would have visited his local church in recent weeks but had been unable to, as it is closed.
Ashenden said it’s too early to say whether there is any evidence that people are turning to faith as a response to the coronavirus crisis, but he did say he believes that people are “reassessing their lives and what matters.”
“One of the things this pandemic has done is to confront us with death and undermine the sense that we’re invulnerable or at least that we have a right to live 75 or 80 years,” Ashenden said.
He added that the crisis has provoked us to “ask us where we came from, if there’s any life beyond death and how we should live while we’re here.”
Last week, LifeSite learned that the spokesperson for the Catholic Church in England who explained to the U.K. government why churches should be closed due to the coronavirus, despite the government originally saying churches should remain open, has a history of supporting and promoting the LGBT agenda.