Catholic Church suspends public worship to slow spread of coronavirus

The Catholic Church will suspend public worship from Friday as efforts continue to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Masses in Wales and England will now take place without a congregation, with worshippers encouraged to follow services on live streams.

Marriages and baptisms will be suspended, while funerals will be performed at the graveside or in a crematorium.

But Catholic churches will remain open for worshippers to visit, provided they "observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing."

The announcement follows similar moves in Scotland and Ireland in recent days, as well as the Church in Wales.

A letter on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said the measures were needed in light of the latest Government guidance.

The letter said: "It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches."

The changes will come into force on Friday evening, until further notice.

Marriages in the Catholic Church have been deferred until after the coronavirus crisis Credit: PA

It comes just days after the Church in Wales announced it will suspend all acts of public worship until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement read: "Weddings scheduled until 31 July 2020 should be postponed and any fees already paid refunded. Couples with a later wedding date should be free to cancel/rearrange without financial penalty.

"If for pressing pastoral reasons a wedding must take place, it should be solemnised with a maximum of ten persons present."

The Church in Wales said it would be staying in touch with the community by phone, by post and online helping the most vulnerable with the delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies.

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