“We appreciate the difficult choices faced at this time by government and parliament in responding to the public health crisis conscious of the hardships which even necessary measures bring for society and especially the most vulnerable.
“The Prime Minister mentioned in his statement that he judged it necessary to close much that is judged by the Government as being non-essential in society. We need to be sure that such judgments are based upon clear evidence that, for example, schools, universities and the football premier league will continue as essential elements of our society’s life.
“The Prime Minister made no reference in his statement to public worship so we were astonished to find in national guidance that the Government was seeking the authority of parliament to close all places of worship.
“It is a momentous act for any political authority to seek to ban public worship across a nation.
“No evidence has been offered to justify why the Government seeks to ban public worship that invariably takes place amid some of the most stringent Covid safety measures in the whole of society.
“The vital role which public worship has for the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people in this Shrewsbury Diocese together with faith communities across the nation can never allow public worship to be dismissed as something non-essential.
“Neither can we lightly overlook how from public worship flows support for the most vulnerable and countless charitable activities in the service of the common good.
“We are asking our Government and political representatives to provide the evidence on which they seeking to impose a ban on all public worship in England. We believe that public worship is not part of the problem we face rather it is part of the solution to this deeply human crisis.”
+ Mark, Bishop of Shrewsbury, 1st November 2020