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Surveys reveal harsh impact of COVID church closures

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A recent survey conducted by the British Catholic Union sheds light on the profound effects of COVID-19-related church closures, revealing startling insights into the well-being of the respondents. This lay organization, dedicated to defending Catholic values in Parliament and public life, undertook what they claim to be the "first major study of Catholic attitudes towards the closure of churches during the pandemic and the impact this had on people's well-being."

Photo credit: Chris Linnett

Photo credit: Chris Linnett

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
12/12/2023 (7 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Catholic Union, COVID-19, Church Closures, Well-being, Survey Results, COVID-19 Inquiry

Released this month, the survey of nearly 1,000 participants will contribute to the U.K. COVID-19 Inquiry, a public investigation scrutinizing the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Catholic Union Director Nigel Parker emphasized the organization's commitment to preventing future church closures, urging the faithful to participate in the survey to ensure the voices of Catholics are heard in the inquiry.

The survey results, according to the group, indicate that over 60% of respondents reported adverse effects on their physical or mental health due to church closures. Strikingly, only a quarter of participants believed it was necessary to legally close churches and places of worship at the beginning of the pandemic. Additionally, nearly 90% expressed dissatisfaction with varying legal restrictions on churches across different regions and nations of the U.K.

Despite these challenges, the survey also highlighted a certain resilience in Mass attendance, with less than 10% of respondents attending Mass less frequently or not at all since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Catholic Union intends to use these findings as part of its contribution to the ongoing COVID-19 Inquiry, which is currently gathering evidence from senior politicians and advisers.

The president of the union, Sheila Hollins, expressed distress over the results, stating that they confirm the unpopularity of church lockdowns and their real impact on people's well-being. Particularly alarming was the increase in the number of people feeling lonely or depressed as a direct consequence of church closures.

Hollins emphasized the importance of the COVID Inquiry thoroughly examining the decisions to close and reopen churches during the pandemic. Similar debates unfolded globally, including in the U.S., where many states passed laws safeguarding houses of worship from state-mandated closures during public health emergencies. A Gallup poll earlier this year revealed a decline in church attendance in the U.S. since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

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