MPs Ask Church Of England To Reopen Buildings For Small Funerals
Government indications suggest that funeral restrictions should be eased further after a group of 36 MPs have urged the Church of England to allow more church sites to officiate small-scale funerals within the church building.
Currently, funerals are only taking place in crematoriums or at the graveside of the deceased after Churches were asked to close in March.
The letter from MPs is concerned that the Church of England are not following advice released last month that stated religious institutions were permitted to complete traditional funeral services if proper safety measures were implemented.
Following a number of safety concerns for both members of the clergy and their congregation church buildings were closed by the Church of England. Now the government are hoping that they will consider the ‘wishes of the deceased and bereaved’ by ensuring they receive a ‘a proper committal in the church.’
However, church representatives have claimed that many churches do not have the capacity to guarantee that all safety procedures are followed. The cite capacity issues preventing all church building from receiving a deep clean, in line with governmental advice, after each service. They claim this places those present at unnecessary risk and is the reason buildings have remained closed.
The MPs letter advised church leaders to:
“It is now a matter for you to decide, and is within your ability, to enable small-scale funerals within the Church of England to now take place.
“Consider, most intently, the pain and anguish of those families unable to have a funeral and ensure your compassion to shine through in your considerations and deliberations today
“Therefore, we write to ask that you give permission, in line with the law and government guidance, for clergy to enter their church and to officiate at funerals within the church building, while observing necessary safety measures.”
Reverend Dr Brendan McCarthy, Church of England’s healthcare adviser, said:
“The death of a loved one is painful under any circumstances and the current situation has made this all the more difficult for those who have been bereaved.
“The House of Bishops has been meeting frequently and advice is reviewed regularly and updated as circumstances allow.
“The Church of England has consistently stated that it will always ensure that, where requested, a priest is present to conduct a funeral service, either at a crematorium or at the churchyard.
“Any suggestion that the Church of England is responsible for ‘direct cremation’ could not be further from the truth – that is against both Government guidance and the Church’s commitment to provide pastoral care for all.
“The advice not to conduct funeral services in church buildings – and it is advice, not instruction – was given because of concerns about parishes having capacity to conduct funerals safely, including being able to deep-clean church buildings between services.”