Catholic churches suspend public worship in solidarity with unvaccinated members

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Bishop Francis Alleyne announced that Catholic churches in Guyana will indefinitely suspend public worship in solidarity with parishioners who would not be allowed to enter due to recent government restrictions on access to public spaces by unvaccinated people .

“Our churches will be closed to public worship until further notice,” Bishop Alleyne said in a statement to church members released today.

Bishop Francis Alleyne

He said that starting Friday, September 10, churches will run virtually all worship services.

Further tightening COVID regulations, the government released a measure last Saturday requiring people who wish to enter buildings to which the public has access to get vaccinated or show proof of a recent negative PCR result. It has been criticized as a violation of civil liberties as the administration seeks to increase the use of vaccines.

Here is Bishop Alleyne’s statement:

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

As you may know, the latest decree published in the Official Journal regarding the COVID pandemic states that people accessing public buildings, including places of worship, must present proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test.

This means that many of our brothers and sisters, at this time, will not be allowed to enter our churches. We must not leave any part of the body detached at all. Therefore, in solidarity with these brothers and sisters, and from Friday September 10, we will conduct all our services virtually and we will refrain from gathering in numbers. Our churches will be closed to public worship until further notice.

The serious threat of a pandemic and the growing number of infections and deaths justify strong action and this calls on us, not only to adhere to reliable scientific guidelines but out of Christian conviction, to go beyond the call and to act in favor of the common good insofar as it is necessary and involves sacrifices. “If anyone asks you to go a mile, go two miles with him” (Mt 5, 41).

The Body of Christ has so far been vigilant in respecting the precautions against the pandemic – masks, disinfection, distancing – and I congratulate you on that. But now the threat has grown more intense and we have to ask ourselves “what more do we need to do?” The term “collective immunity” was introduced to us. This means that when a high percentage of the population (80%) has been vaccinated, it becomes extremely difficult for the virus to spread. The science is solid on this and worthy of our trust. The official teaching of the Church is that we would all have access to a vaccine and remain vigilant. I therefore give the strongest encouragement to our brothers and sisters who have still not been vaccinated to reconsider your decision. I ask you to act in the interest of the common good and to do your part to safeguard the well-being of all.

In the meantime, let us all stand united in prayer, in our homes and through our virtual platforms in mutual love, strength and encouragement.


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