The Catholic Church in Scotland wants a planned 20-person limit on congregations when churches can reopen for worship to be dropped.
Instead, they believe each church should be able to allow a congregation in relation to its size, while maintaining measures to limit the spread of coronavirus such as social distancing.
Churches and other places of worship have been closed to communal services since Scotland re-entered lockdown in January.
As part of the Scottish Government’s road map out of the lockdown revealed last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to reopen communal worship in time for the Easter weekend and Passover on April 4.
Services will be limited to congregations of 20.
In a statement, the Catholic Bishops of Scotland welcomed the announcement but questioned the need for the 20-person cap.
They said: “The Catholic community recognises the seriousness of the pandemic and is committed to working with others to avoid the spreading of infection.
“At the same time, we anticipate ongoing dialogue with the Scottish Government regarding the requirement of a numerical cap on the number of worshippers.
“As we continue to observe social distancing and the protocols on infection control and hygiene formulated by the Bishops’ Conference working group under the leadership of the former Chief Medical Officer, Sir Harry Burns, we maintain that it would be more appropriate for each church building to accommodate a congregation in proportion to its size rather than on the basis of an imposed number.”
The Scottish Government’s updated strategic framework for moving out of lockdown states: “Places of worship play an important role in supporting communities and people of faith.
“We recognise the importance of individual and group worship to many people’s spiritual health and general wellbeing.
“When it is safe to do so we will work with the faith community to re-open places of worship in Level 4 areas on the restricted-numbers basis that was allowed before January 8.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We must take action across society to stop the virus spreading further, so we can protect public health and save lives.
“The virus transmits when people come together and therefore we have to reduce, as far as possible, the places where they do so.
“We understand and appreciate the significant role communal worship plays in supporting people’s mental and spiritual well-being, and its importance as a lifeline for many in preventing social isolation and loneliness.
“We do not want to keep these measures in place a minute longer than is necessary.
“We look forward to the continuing ongoing dialogue with Faith and Belief leaders to attempt to reach consensus as to how places of worship can best be reopened when the data indicates that it is the time to do so.
“We repeat our gratitude to the Faith and Belief communities for their support to us and their communities throughout this epidemic.”
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