England’s Cardinal Nichols: “It would be a scandal to re-open churches…”

England’s Cardinal Nichols: “It would be a scandal to re-open churches…”

UNITED KINGDOM, May 7, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the U.K.’s senior Catholic cleric, told Catholics that it would be a “scandal” for churches to open for private prayer at present. This comes after the bishops previously made it clear that they helped convince the government to close the churches.

The comment was made in a letter sent to Catholics in the U.K. who had written to the bishops asking that the churches be reopened.

“I ask you to remember that the churches are closed because of the restrictions established by the Government,” Nichols’s letter states.

“The Prime Minister said this explicitly on 23rd March. These restrictions are still in place as part of the great effort to contain this deadly virus. To do so is a serious moral imperative. To act contrary to this guideline would be to endanger life and to act in a way that gave scandal,” he continued.

The letter does not acknowledge that the bishops themselves, according to their own statement, played a key role in the U.K. government closing churches even to private prayer.

The Catholic bishops prohibited the celebration of public Masses before the lockdown came into force and, according to their own statement, played a crucial role themselves in convincing the government to require that churches be closed altogether.

A March 24 statement from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales (CBCEW) explained the role played by Professor Jim McManus, a member of the health care reference group for the bishops’ conference, in convincing the government to close churches after guidance from the ministry of housing, communities, and local government had stated that “places of worship should remain open for solitary prayer.”

“Professor Jim McManus has spoken with a senior civil servant and it was quite clear they just had not thought through the issues of infection and security of churches and when he made these points clear, they were appalled and agreed they had made a mistake,” the diocese’s statement said.

“Keeping churches open sends an utterly inconsistent message and therefore they must be closed for the benefit of others and stopping infection,” the bishops continued.

Maria Haynes, a Catholic housewife, mother, and NHS professional who has spent over thirty years working as a pro-family, pro-life activist, told LifeSite that “when supermarkets are open, maintaining government guidelines, there is no case to support Catholic churches being closed.”

Haynes, who received the letter from Nichols, told LifeSite that she has written a response to the cardinal asking him if at this time of great stress it has been explained to the government that Catholics desperately need access to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

“In the secular world in which we are living, we Catholics cannot assume that any of our government ministers have the slightest understanding of Catholic belief in this regard and therefore we must make sure that they are made aware of this,” Haynes said.

Haynes told LifeSite she has respond to Nichols, asking him:

Did the government “establish” these “restrictions” following consultation with you as leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales? I ask this because my understanding is that the government’s jurisdiction over Catholic Church matters ends at the front door of each Catholic church.

In his letter, Nichols also suggested that Catholics contact the secretary of state for the ministry of housing, communities, and local government, Rt. Hon. Robert Jenrick, to express their “deep desire” to have renewed access to churches “for prayer and for the celebration of Sacraments” and to “stress how essential these matters are in your life.”

Haynes told LifeSite she has responded to Nichols, asking: “While we had already done this prior to receiving your letter, Your Eminence, I must ask you as our cardinal, have you done this on our behalf?”

Haynes told LifeSite that she has spoken to other Catholics in the U.K. who have received similar letters from Nichols.

“Catholic parishes throughout England and Wales are perfectly capable of putting systems in place to ensure that government guidelines on social distancing are followed,” she said.

Last month, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth questioned the wisdom of churches being closed during the coronavirus lockdown. LifeSite wrote to Egan to ask if, in light of his comments, he was planning to reopen his churches for private prayer but did not receive a response.

To respectfully and charitably communicate your wishes to your bishops, please use this search engine to find contact details for Catholic bishops in England and Wales and this one here for Catholic bishops in Scotland. Cardinal Nichols can be contacted at cardinalnichols@rcdow.org.uk

Source: Lifesitenews – emphasis added


How would you describe Cardinal Nicholas – faithless?  misguided?  What possible reason could Cardinal Nicholas (and the rest of the hierarchy, north and south of the border) have for actually wanting to keep the churches closed?  Of course, maybe you agree with keeping churches closed – maybe you think it would be a scandal to re-open them.  Share your thoughts…  politely!   

Comments (46)

  • Antoine Bisset

    Compare and contrast:


    To Catholics and all people of good will

    Veritas liberabit vos. Jn 8:32

    In this time of great crisis, we Pastors of the Catholic Church, by virtue of our mandate, consider it our sacred duty to make an Appeal to our Brothers in the Episcopate, to the Clergy, to Religious, to the holy People of God and to all men and women of good will. This Appeal has also been undersigned by intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, journalists and professionals who agree with its content, and may be undersigned by those who wish to make it their own.

    The facts have shown that, under the pretext of the Covid-19 epidemic, the inalienable rights of citizens have in many cases been violated and their fundamental freedoms, including the exercise of freedom of worship, expression and movement, have been disproportionately and unjustifiably restricted. Public health must not, and cannot, become an alibi for infringing on the rights of millions of people around the world, let alone for depriving the civil authority of its duty to act wisely for the common good. This is particularly true as growing doubts emerge from several quarters about the actual contagiousness, danger and resistance of the virus. Many authoritative voices in the world of science and medicine confirm that the media’s alarmism about Covid-19 appears to be absolutely unjustified.

    We have reason to believe, on the basis of official data on the incidence of the epidemic as related to the number of deaths, that there are powers interested in creating panic among the world’s population with the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction on freedoms, of controlling people and of tracking their movements. The imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control.

    We also believe that in some situations the containment measures that were adopted, including the closure of shops and businesses, have precipitated a crisis that has brought down entire sectors of the economy. This encourages interference by foreign powers and has serious social and political repercussions. Those with governmental responsibility must stop these forms of social engineering, by taking measures to protect their citizens whom they represent, and in whose interests they have a serious obligation to act. Likewise, let them help the family, the cell of society, by not unreasonably penalizing the weak and elderly, forcing them into a painful separation from their loved ones. The criminalization of personal and social relationships must likewise be judged as an unacceptable part of the plan of those who advocate isolating individuals in order to better manipulate and control them.

    We ask the scientific community to be vigilant, so that cures for Covid-19 are offered in honesty for the common good. Every effort must be made to ensure that shady business interests do not influence the choices made by government leaders and international bodies. It is unreasonable to penalize those remedies that have proved to be effective, and are often inexpensive, just because one wishes to give priority to treatments or vaccines that are not as good, but which guarantee pharmaceutical companies far greater profits, and exacerbate public health expenditures. Let us also remember, as Pastors, that for Catholics it is morally unacceptable to develop or use vaccines derived from material from aborted fetuses.

    We also ask government leaders to ensure that forms of control over people, whether through tracking systems or any other form of location-finding, are rigorously avoided. The fight against Covid-19, however serious, must not be the pretext for supporting the hidden intentions of supranational bodies that have very strong commercial and political interests in this plan. In particular, citizens must be given the opportunity to refuse these restrictions on personal freedom, without any penalty whatsoever being imposed on those who do not wish to use vaccines, contact tracking or any other similar tool. Let us also consider the blatant contradiction of those who pursue policies of drastic population control and at the same time present themselves as the savior of humanity, without any political or social legitimacy. Finally, the political responsibility of those who represent the people can in no way be left to “experts” who can indeed claim a kind of immunity from prosecution, which is disturbing to say the least.

    We strongly urge those in the media to commit themselves to providing accurate information and not penalizing dissent by resorting to forms of censorship, as is happening widely on social media, in the press and on television. Providing accurate information requires that room be given to voices that are not aligned with a single way of thinking. This allows citizens to consciously assess the facts, without being heavily influenced by partisan interventions. A democratic and honest debate is the best antidote to the risk of imposing subtle forms of dictatorship, presumably worse than those our society has seen rise and fall in the recent past.

    Finally, as Pastors responsible for the flock of Christ, let us remember that the Church firmly asserts her autonomy to govern, worship, and teach. This autonomy and freedom are an innate right that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given her for the pursuit of her proper ends. For this reason, as Pastors we firmly assert the right to decide autonomously on the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, just as we claim absolute autonomy in matters falling within our immediate jurisdiction, such as liturgical norms and ways of administering Communion and the Sacraments. The State has no right to interfere, for any reason whatsoever, in the sovereignty of the Church. Ecclesiastical authorities have never refused to collaborate with the State, but such collaboration does not authorize civil authorities to impose any sort of ban or restriction on public worship or the exercise of priestly ministry. The rights of God and of the faithful are the supreme law of the Church, which she neither intends to, nor can, abdicate. We ask that restrictions on the celebration of public ceremonies be removed.

    We should like to invite all people of good will not to shirk their duty to cooperate for the common good, each according to his or her own state and possibilities and in a spirit of fraternal charity. The Church desires such cooperation, but this cannot disregard either a respect for natural law or a guarantee of individual freedoms. The civil duties to which citizens are bound imply the State’s recognition of their rights.

    We are all called to assess the current situation in a way consistent with the teaching of the Gospel. This means taking a stand: either with Christ or against Christ. Let us not be intimidated or frightened by those who would have us believe that we are a minority: Good is much more widespread and powerful than the world would have us believe. We are fighting against an invisible enemy that seeks to divide citizens, to separate children from their parents, grandchildren from their grandparents, the faithful from their pastors, students from teachers, and customers from vendors. Let us not allow centuries of Christian civilization to be erased under the pretext of a virus, and an odious technological tyranny to be established, in which nameless and faceless people can decide the fate of the world by confining us to a virtual reality. If this is the plan to which the powers of this earth intend to make us yield, know that Jesus Christ, King and Lord of History, has promised that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18).

    Let us entrust government leaders and all those who rule over the fate of nations to Almighty God, that He may enlighten and guide them in this time of great crisis. May they remember that, just as the Lord will judge us Pastors for the flock which he has entrusted to us, so will He also judge government leaders for the peoples whom they have the duty to defend and govern.

    With faith, let us beseech the Lord to protect the Church and the world. May the Blessed Virgin, Help of Christians, crush the head of the ancient Serpent and defeat the plans of the children of darkness.

    8 May 2020

    link: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/four-cardinals-join-global-appeal-decrying-crackdown-on-basic-freedoms-over-coronavirus

    May 8, 2020 at 11:20 am
  • editor

    Antoine Bisset,

    Thank you very much indeed for posting that appeal from three, not four cardinals, as Lifesitenews has corrected on their site. Cardinal Robert Sarah – to his eternal shame – was quick to point out that he did not sign, although from a personal point of view he “may” share some [concerns] about the restrictions etc. Any politician could have written that. What a let-down.

    The appeal compares and contrasts starkly with the comments from Cardinal Nichols; however, anything more from Cardinal Nichols would – in turn – contrast starkly with his betrayal of the Faith and Morals in many other spheres. A man who is supportive of the pornographic nature of sex education in Catholic schools today, for example, is never going to lose sleep over closed churches – an apostate’s dream, you might say.

    Of course, that’s just my humble opinion. It could be that others think the Cardinal to be a man of strong faith which shows itself in his fidelity to the Government’s concerns for the common good – not to endanger life… a moral imperative. He’ll be aware that the First Commandment was probably put there by some ignorant peasant centuries ago before we had our enlightened Scripture scholars. That’ll be it.

    Still, somehow the words of the appeal from the three cardinals strikes me as being more in tune with the way God will be judging this whole situation. Cardinal Nichols… I wonder what God is thinking about his position…

    May 8, 2020 at 12:50 pm
    • Josephine


      I do agree about Cardinal Robert Sarah – this pandemic has definitely separated the sheep from the goats. I wouldn’t have expected to find him among the goats, but that’s the fact of the matter, and very disappointing.

      May 8, 2020 at 1:28 pm
      • Antoine Bisset

        It is very disappointing that Cardinal Sarah chose to disassociate himself from this statement. If I recall correctly, he has been very forthright with his expression of orthodoxy. I had hoped that he might have been our Pope.

        May 8, 2020 at 2:03 pm
      • Margaret Mary

        Antoine Bisset,

        I feel exactly the same disappointment. I had high hopes pinned on Cardinal Sarah.

        May 8, 2020 at 4:43 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        I am very suspicious of high ranking churchmen who express sympathies towards liturgical Traditionalism and moral orthodoxy, such as +Sarah. Lots of bishops are pro-life and say the Traditional Mass once in a while, but it means nothing. Unless they publicly denounce the Novus Ordo Missae then they are good for nothing. Only the SSPX bishops have done this. Cardinal Burke is essentially a high-church neo-conservative Catholic. He is actually more dangerous than prelates such as Nichols, because he gives ordinary lay people the illusion that the Church is healthy, and this keep them complacent. If every bishop was a manifest heretic then the laity would resist. This has been the great strategy of the modernists.

        May 8, 2020 at 8:05 pm
      • RCAVictor


        I believe Abp. Vigano has (shockingly) denounced the Novus Ordo recently – but other than him, I agree with you.

        May 8, 2020 at 9:15 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        That’s excellent news. I had no idea. I stopped reading the news about +Vigano because I thought he spoke mainly about the cover up of perversion in the hierarchy, and I was a bit fed up of hearing about that. I did however read something somewhere that +Vigano had spoken in favour of the authentic message of Fatima. The penny has dropped, it would seem.

        May 8, 2020 at 9:22 pm
      • RCAVictor

        Yes, he’s been sounding like a true traditionalist lately, including regarding the Consecration and Third Secret, and has even traced the destruction of the Faith, for the laity, to the Novus Ordo. I could scarcely believe what I was reading…

        May 8, 2020 at 9:30 pm
      • crofterlady

        RCAVictor, can you give a link to that?

        May 9, 2020 at 3:13 pm
      • editor


        You will find it in the introduction to this thread…

        Scroll to the 7th question down, about the Sacraments, which is headlined in bold:

        MJM: How do you judge the suspension of the Sacraments which we have seen in almost all the world?

        In there he criticises the goings-on at the novus ordo and praises the TLM.

        Catholic Truth at your service!

        May 9, 2020 at 4:09 pm
      • RCAVictor


        I think you should change your avatar to this:


        May 9, 2020 at 4:47 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        You surprise me – I’d have thought YOU, of all people, would have realised my avatar could well be changed to “Just one more thing”… My all time favourite cop… Columbo!


        May 9, 2020 at 5:04 pm
  • Lily

    The appeal from the three cardinals is absolutely correct. Cardinal Nichols is a disgrace but that’s not news.

    May 8, 2020 at 1:14 pm
  • Josephine

    I agree – the appeal from the cardinals is great, and it should be sent to every newspaper and all the top politicians and scientists. We are definitely being set up for one world government, as the cardinals say. It’s so obvious. As for Cardinal Nichols – the least said, the better. He is totally faithless, from what I can tell by his words and actions.

    May 8, 2020 at 1:27 pm
  • Matthew

    Cardinal Nichols is taking the exact same line as the SSPX who also think it would be a mistake to re-open at this stage in the pandemic

    May 8, 2020 at 4:01 pm
    • editor


      In which case, the very same criticism applies to the SSPX – of all the priests in the world, we’d expect them to show the kind of leadership evident in the appeal from the three cardinals, posted above. Disappointing.

      May 8, 2020 at 4:19 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      If you live in the Archdiocese of Westminster you will know that the faithful there do not have much regard for Cardinal Nichols and this won’t make him any more well thought of. He’s a cardinal, the SSPX is a society or fraternity of ordinary priests. He’s the one with the authority in the Church.

      Just out of interest, do you live in the Westminster archdiocese and if so, would you agree with my assessment?

      May 8, 2020 at 4:45 pm
    • Athanasius


      You’re wrong about that. The SSPX is going along silently with what the law has unlawfully mandated, whereas Cardinal Nichols is very publicly supporting what the government is unlawfully imposing on Catholics. There’s a massive difference in culpability before God, not to mention a much more serious question hanging over Cardinal Nichols’ Faith.

      May 8, 2020 at 6:54 pm
      • Lily


        Your point is well made but I’m afraid I think that the SSPX should not be going along, silently or otherwise, with “what the law has unlawfully mandated.”

        When you think that Archbishop Lefebvre refused to go along with what the popes and Council had introduced (new Mass) then I doubt very much if he would be going along with these church closures. There’s no doubt that the priests, modernist and traditional, need to grow a spine.

        May 8, 2020 at 6:59 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        If the SSPX do resist the civil authorities, then I believe they should do so with common sense… If they are all gung-ho and have themselves imprisoned then what use are they to us? They can make martyrs of themselves, good for them, but we will still be without the Sacraments! An underground Traditional church may be the way forward. This may be a practice for persecutions yet to come. Let us learn well from it.

        May 8, 2020 at 7:25 pm
      • editor

        Miles Immaculatae,

        Well said. You make an excellent case for the proper use of the virtue or prudence. And there have been, I believe, some cases of “underground” work by priests up and down the land. But you didn’t hear it from me, OK?


        May 8, 2020 at 7:53 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Haha I haven’t received my invitation yet. But I have always been one to be out of the loop.

        May 8, 2020 at 8:13 pm
      • RCAVictor

        Editor and Miles,

        Thought you might enjoy this article about an “underground” barbershop somewhere in the wilds of California:


        May 8, 2020 at 9:13 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        Enjoy, I did, indeed!

        However, I was distracted by a headline alongside a photo of Bill Gates to the right of the article: What Gates Said When Trump Asked Him to Be His Science Advisor

        Surely Trump knows enough about Gates NOT to ask him to be anything at all in his Government? Or is this a case of “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”?

        May 9, 2020 at 11:37 pm
      • RCAVictor


        I wish I knew. He’s already been bamboozled by Tony Fauci and Birx, who are both Gates disciples and tried and true members of the right “network.” However, I think he might be seeing the light, and is developing one of his complex plans to send these devils back to their sewer. Meanwhile, I’m praying to Our Lady of Fatima about it….

        May 10, 2020 at 12:13 am
      • Athanasius


        It’s fine us saying these things but if the SSPX priests are seen to “break the law” then it’s very easy for the government to target them as extremists. What I think they could have done, though, is find ingenious ways of celebrating public Masses while keeping within the totalitarian rules for the duration of the fake pandemic. At least they haven’t done what Cardinal Nichols has done, which is to approve the closure of chapels. He certainly doesn’t have the Catholic spirit, but then we knew that when he placed flowers at the shrine of a false deity in a Hundu temple.

        May 8, 2020 at 9:48 pm
      • Margo McGlashan

        Well you know what they say about the ones who just kept their heads down and silently went along with injustice in Nazi Germany – They’re worse, as they knew it was wrong and Still done nothing.

        At least this misguided Cardinal mistakenly thinks he’s doing the right thing.

        May 9, 2020 at 10:23 am
      • Athanasius

        Margo McGlashan

        The analogy is out of context but it was actually the totalitarian leaders and their puppets who reminded the people constantly that anything less than silence on their part could result in them being shot. Cardinal Nichols is anything but a well meaning but misguided prelate, he’s a naturalist who values the human more than the divine.

        May 9, 2020 at 12:06 pm
      • editor


        “This misguided Cardinal”? A misguided person is usually open to correction but Cardinal Nichols has a cast iron reputation of ignoring letters of concern, let alone correction, from those who contact him about his decidedly anti-Catholic words and actions. To quote Athanasius:” He certainly doesn’t have the Catholic spirit, but then we knew that when he placed flowers at the shrine of a false deity in a Hindu temple.”

        May 9, 2020 at 12:09 pm
    • Miles Immaculatae


      Actually, the priests at Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet (main SSPX church in Paris) did say Mass in violation of the French authorities and were subsequently fined. What good are the SSPX clergy to us if they all get themselves arrested? If the SSPX is to disobey the lockdown it is best they do it in a surreptitious manner.

      Here in Scotland the bishops cancelled Masses before the lockdown was imposed by the government. But the SSPX continued to offer public Masses the weekend before lockdown day. And the SSPX certainly were not happy about having to stop public Masses, unlike some in the Novus Ordo church who were enthusiastic about it. I think there is a big difference… And as Athanasius mentioned, if the SSPX are culpable then there are degrees of culpability.

      The priests may have betrayed the faithful, but ultimately this privation is a chastisement that we deserve.

      May 8, 2020 at 7:20 pm
  • RCAVictor

    “A scandal to re-open the churches”? Sorry, Your Eminence YOU are the scandal, and a disgrace: to the Church, to your brother prelates, to the faithful, and most of all, to Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom you have replaced with your groveling human respect.

    May 8, 2020 at 4:32 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      RCA Victor,

      Hear, hear! As usual, you hit the nail on the head.

      May 8, 2020 at 4:46 pm
  • Faith of Our Fathers

    This Man has long been a Scandal. He is in the same class as the likes of Jimmy Martin . Enough said.

    May 8, 2020 at 5:47 pm
    • Nicky

      Faith of our Fathers,

      I agree, a total scandal. I’m not sure who Jimmy Martin is, though,’scuse my ignorance, LOL!

      May 9, 2020 at 1:39 pm
      • RCAVictor


        Martin is the American Jesuit who trots around the globe trying to change Church teaching on homosexuality, based on the usual fraud: compassion, sensitivity, genuine love, inclusion…all that trumps truth, you know…

        May 10, 2020 at 12:15 am
  • crofterlady

    As far as I’m concerned, the clergy did betray the people. Cowards. I’ll never forget that and neither will the Lord.

    May 9, 2020 at 11:08 pm
  • RCAVictor

    Cardinal Nichols celebrates Ramadan at home:


    Although this article cites a Church Militant article, it is supported by a Twitter post (click on the “Joined” link).

    May 10, 2020 at 1:04 am
  • Margo McGlashan

    Its shocking that the Churches are still closed, I am deeply concerned about the erosion for our rights and freedom of worship.

    Sure, all these cowardly Bishops and Politicians say they are trying to protect us all from catching the virus and dying or passing it on to others, potentially killing them also.

    What right do they have to tell us what to do? They need to understand that its my body and its my choice!

    May 10, 2020 at 1:07 pm
    • Lily

      Margo McGlashan,

      Love the way you turned the pro-abortion slogan round to fit this situation abut closed churches and the virus. I agree – let me decide if I want to risk my health by going to Mass. I’ll do the deciding not the bishops or politicians.

      May 10, 2020 at 1:13 pm
  • graeme taylor

    What I find so silly is the politicians in the parliaments debating the world shortages of P.P.E. and still say people can not attend a funeral. On my last visit to the Parliament Channel, I counted 90+ MSP’s
    yet they say each death is a tragedy and bereavement for the family and friends of the dead yet people are not “allowed” to attend the funeral. The politicians have lost all credibility.

    May 12, 2020 at 9:22 am
    • Athanasius

      Graeme Taylor

      To be honest, few if any had credibility to start with. In our time you have to be a particulary unsavoury type to get on in politics, irreligious for a start. Well, they will answer to God for their abuse of authority in oppressing, not to mention perverting, society. Their day of reckoning will come before God, as it will for us all, and no amount of political spin or excuses will work in His presence.

      May 12, 2020 at 1:00 pm
      • graeme taylor

        Absolutely. However, even using their own arguments about we can not attend funerals – they can sit in a chamber – as they must be as George Orwell put it.
        They are ludicrous.

        May 16, 2020 at 11:32 am
  • Miles Immaculatae

    Have a listen to Damian Thompson’s podcast about the English & Welsh bishops’ capitulation to the secular technocratic bureaucratic regime Re Cvirus…


    May 12, 2020 at 2:29 pm
    • graeme taylor

      Yes, a very enlightening podcast. I wrote to St Andrew’s and Edinburgh (before we were all locked out on Sundays) about the very wrong advice from the Archdiocese saying people must receive Communion in the hand. Amongst the responses I received was “that is what the English bishops are saying”

      May 16, 2020 at 11:29 am

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