31 March 2021, The Tablet

Church finances - peril and possibility


Church finances - peril and possibility

Westminster Cathedral on Palm Sunday: churches had to shut or limit numbers during Covid-19 lockdowns over the past year
Photo: © Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

 

The pandemic is having a devastating impact on the Church’s income, and at a time of urgent need, influential voices are concerned about the looming crisis

It has been a year unlike any other. But this Easter Sunday, Catholics will be feeling a degree of relief: not only that coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out and the end of lockdown is in sight, but also that they can go to Mass. Last year, Holy Week and Easter came at the start of the deep lockdown and the churches were all closed. Some will be at church, their lives changed forever: loved ones lost, jobs gone, hopes for the future dashed. Others will be at home, perhaps watching Mass livestreamed, as has become their regular practice. Some, perhaps for the first time in their lives, will simply miss the Easter services altogether. A return to normal life seems not far over the horizon. Yet is that really possible – or even desirable?

The coronavirus pandemic has changed society and the Church has been changed as much as any other part of it. Social distancing has meant that churches are not as full as they once were. Some people will never return. They have got out of the habit; the obligation to attend Mass on a Sunday no longer matters to them in the way it once did. Some may still feel that they will be safer from the virus if they stay home to watch a Mass from a church of their choice on their laptop.

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