27 January 2021, The Tablet

Cardinal prays for Covid victims as British death toll exceeds 100,000

Cardinal prays for Covid victims as British death toll exceeds 100,000

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus
Justin Tallis/PA Wire/PA Images

Cardinal Vincent Nichols called on Catholics to pray for the 100,000 people in Britain who have died with coronavirus, their families and communities.

In a statement released on Tuesday Cardinal Nichols described the milestone as:  “A day of great sadness all over the land.” 

He went on to offer his prayers: “So many people, families, communities, remembering those who have died in these terrible months of the pandemic. Each one is mourned. Each one is to be prayed for.

This is our instinct, our faith, our practice. Our prayer is rooted in the faith that, in death, life is changed, not ended, for the promise of eternal life opens the door of hope even in our darkest moments.

I pray for each and every one, those who have died, those who mourn, those who serve.”

Cardinal Nichols received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine last week, saying in a message afterwards: “I strongly encourage everyone to take the vaccine. Let's play our part and support NHS staff as they fight to save so many lives.”

The Archbishops of York and Canterbury also spoke out in an open letter, saying: “100,000 isn’t just an abstract figure. Each number is a person: someone we loved and someone who loved us. We also believe that each of these people was known to God and cherished by God.”

The letter went on to point to the failures and injustices of the pandemic. “We also know that poorer communities, minority ethnic communities and those living with disabilities have been afflicted disproportionately and cry out for the healing of these inequalities.”

As well as a day of tragedy for the country, the latest statistics have seen the government come under intense criticism and scrutiny. The Prime Minister, whilst saying he was “deeply sorry” about the mounting death toll, said that his government had done “everything we could” to combat the virus. 

However, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, speaking on the Today programme this morning laid the blame squarely at the door of the government: ““We all accept these are challenging times for any government, this is a virus which has swept across the world with speed and severity and it continues to spread ferociously … But monumental mistakes have been made, we have had a litany of errors in the last 12 months, and he didn’t have to make these mistakes.

It’s just horrendous on every front … I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, I just do not believe that Boris Johnson did everything we could, I just can’t accept that.”

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