The pandemic has hit Catholic parishes hard. It’s also taken a toll on priests

Today was supposed to be England’s “Freedom Day.” Back in February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a weary populace that, all being well, the country could look forward to the end of a nationwide lockdown on June 21. But all wasn’t well. With a third wave of COVID-19 spreading across the country, Johnson announced that the easing of restrictions in England would be delayed to July 19. But with “Freedom Day” tantalizingly in sight, CNA spoke with pastors across England about the pandemic’s long-term impact on their parishes. The conversations revealed that the coronavirus had not only hit parishes hard, but also exacted a deep toll on priests. Parishioners lost All of the pastors acknowledged that a significant number of parishioners had vanished during the crisis — and were unlikely to return. Fr. Alexander Lucie-Smith, pastor of St. Peter’s, Hove, a seaside town in East Sussex, said that numbers were now about 60% of what they were before the pandemic, though giving was at around 70%.

The pandemic has hit Catholic parishes hard. It’s also taken a toll on priests

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