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Why I'm not opening churches yet...

Publié le : 2020-05-16 a 16h00 | Catégorie : News, Communicated

Why I'm not opening churches yet...

Over the past days, I’ve received a few messages asking me to reopen the churches of our diocese as soon as possible so that people can have access to the sacraments. Someone suggested I write a note to explain my reluctance.

My response is quite simple. It rests on the words of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you.” If I choose not to open our churches quickly, it's out of love for my brothers and sisters. I don't want to expose them to the terrible disease that is COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve isolated myself, I’ve followed government instructions, I’ve been doubly attentive to my hygiene. Why? It’s not so much because I’m afraid of getting sick. It’s mainly because of the older priests I live with. There’s no way I’d want them to get sick because of me. What worries me more is that I could be carrying this virus without having any its symptoms. So, even though I feel perfectly healthy, I choose to limit my outings, to avoid groups, to work from my room and to spend many hours alone. Such is the price of love.

I would not want the reopening of our churches to give this virus a chance to spread and infect more people than it already has, especially our older and more vulnerable parishioners. The most recent statistics tell us that the number of mortalities in Quebec increased by 30% in April compared to last year. That’s huge. We can’t continue with this mortality rate. And so, I wait.

With other bishops, I’m working on a protocol which, once approved by government authorities, will allow us to gradually open our churches while ensuring the safety of those who attend. The speed of its implementation will depend on the evolution of the disease in each area. It will require many precautions. New practices will have to be put in place. It will not be business as usual for a long time.

In the meantime, I remember that the Lord is present to me and makes me grow in his grace each time I open the Scriptures to meditate on them, each time I take a few moments to pray, each time I forget myself to help another. I use modern means of communication to maintain relationships with my Church community, to stay in touch with others, to live fraternity. And I rejoice that so many parish communities remain active in creative and fruitful ways, in spite of closed buildings.

So I invite you to be patient with me and to accept the limits of this moment simply out of love for others. Remember that patience is a gift of the Spirit, as is love. May the Spirit help us transform this experience of deprivation into a sign of love for our brothers and our sisters. In this way, we will grow closer to Jesus and become more like him.

+ Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau