The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland have announced the formation of a Covid-19 Pastoral Ministry Working Group, which will begin examining how best to meet the long-term pastoral needs of the Catholic community during the pandemic.
A range of approaches, focusing on the liturgical, spiritual and welfare needs of the Catholic community during a time of long-term restrictions will be examined by a newly established Pastoral Ministry Working Group. This group will aim to ensure that the Church is prepared for the possibility of extended restrictions on the operation of parishes and dioceses by planning for forms of pastoral ministry which will be viable in the COVID-19 context.
The group will be chaired by Bishop Brian McGee, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles. Speaking about the initiative, Bishop McGee said; “After our public Masses stopped and our Churches closed with almost no warning, the immediate response from our priests and parishioners across Scotland was both impressive and uplifting. With great ingenuity and creativity, online Masses and devotions were made available throughout the country every day. Through this and other action, many vulnerable and lonely people continue to be supported in safe ways.”
“While it will be wonderful when our parishes can reopen, we recognise that Parish life cannot quickly return to normal until a vaccine or a treatment is available. We do not expect this to happen until at least 2021. This means, that even when Churches reopen, parish activities will still be greatly restricted, our Pastoral Working Group hopes to identify and publicise advice or resources to help dioceses and parishes face fresh challenges in a safe manner.”
Bishop McGee added;
“Although not denying the difficulties which lie ahead, our Group had a very positive first meeting. Early figures indicate very high numbers of viewers are watching and downloading Masses and devotions online, leading us to believe that with God’s providential care, the spiritual, pastoral and catechetical work we do can actually help renew the Church in Scotland and bring growth and hope after a time of despair.”
The new working group will work in tandem with the recently established Covid-19 Working Group looking at the creation of an Infection Control Protocol to govern the phased reopening of churches for public worship.
Membership of Pastoral Ministry Working Group: Bishop Brian McGee (Chair); Fr Stephen McGrattan, Secretary of the National Liturgical Commission; Fr Michael Kane, Parish Priest, St Augustine’s, Coatbridge; Nicola McDonagh, Parishioner, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh; Margaret Barton, R.E. Adviser, Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh; Barbara Coupar, Director, Scottish Catholic Education Service; Tina Campbell, National Safeguarding Co-ordinator; and Michael McGrath, Asst. General Secretary to the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland