A group of Conservative MPs have written a letter to the Church of England, suggesting that clergy members be allowed inside their churches to hold small-scale funerals while observing social distancing and safety measures.
Currently, funerals are only allowed to take place either at the crematorium or the graveside after they were closed in March, the BBC reports.
The MPs say they are now worried that the wishes of the bereaved and the people who have passed are not being fulfilled “with a proper committal in the church of their wish”. The letter goes on to say that government guidance relating to funerals is clear and services can be held if the appropriate measures are put in place.
The House of Bishops has now agreed to a three-stage plan that will see church buildings gradually reopened in line with the government’s approach. This would mean services could be streamed from church, followed by increased access for some rites and ceremonies, before finally being opened up for services with limited congregations.
In response to the letter, Church of England adviser on healthcare policy the Reverend Dr Brendan McCarthy said: “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.”
Not being able to say goodbye to loved ones properly in the absence of the normal funeral rituals that would take place is likely to have a big impact on those left behind.
According to the Guardian, bereavement charity Cruse has said it has been contacted by people in distress because they are unable to attend funerals – and this is expected to increase in the future.
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