Diocese of London asks 'for patience' as it prepares to reopen Catholic churches in southwestern Ontario

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London says it is finalizing a plan to reopen, but has not yet set a date to resume services.

The news comes as the province announced that places of worship will be allowed to reopen starting Friday.

As part of Monday’s update outlining a regional approach to Stage 2 of Phase 2 of reopening the province amid the coronavirus pandemic, Premier Doug Ford announced that places of worship will be allowed to reopen starting Friday. Physical distancing measures must be in place and capacity can’t surpass 30 per cent.

In a letter following the announcement, Bishop Ronald Fabbro said the diocese is “beginning the process of reopening our churches” but “we will need some time to make sure our communities can worship safely.”

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Fabbro said details will be made available as soon as they are ready, but said the plan includes “adjusting church seating plans and training clergy, lay ministers, staff and volunteers in how to be safe and keep our communities safe.”

“We pray that these extraordinary measures will be temporary, but for this to be the case, we must follow the advice of health authorities to minimize any potential transmission of the virus when we resume services.”

Even once churches reopen, Fabbro said mass will still be live-streamed wherever possible as capacity restrictions, when combined with the inability of those facing illness, a compromised immune system, or feeling “uncomfortable returning to church,” mean not everyone will be able to attend in person.

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“Approaching these uncertain days with a spirit of kindness and generosity to one another will help us all as we navigate the path ahead. I continue to be inspired by the countless acts of goodwill and charity taking place throughout our Diocese,” Fabbro wrote.

“May we continue to pray for the sick, those who have died during this pandemic and for those caring for them. Be assured of my gratitude for your patience and faithfulness during this closure period. You remain in my prayers.”

— with files from Global News’ Jessica Patton.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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