Catholic bishops write to PM over restrictions on religious services


The New Zealand Catholic Bishops have written to the Prime Minister urging the Cabinet to raise the limit on numbers allowed at religious services to at least 100 when it meets on Monday.

Their strongly-worded letter follows the New Zealand Police today issuing guidelines saying religious services are allowed under Covid-19 Alert Level 2 as long as people sit in multiple groups of 10; while the Ministry of Health issued a statement repeating that no more than 10 people can attend such a service.

NZ Catholic Bishops Conference executive officer Siobhan Dilly said the bishops are carefully studying the Police guidelines, which state religious services can be held, as long as people attending are seated in groups of no more than 10; each group is 2m apart from the others; and that a register is kept of those attending, for contract-tracing purposes.

The bishops are also studying a Ministry of Health statement, also issued today, that repeats previous Level 2 limits of 10 people at “public gatherings including church and faith-based ones.”  

Ms Dilly said the bishops acknowledge that the Prime Minister has pledged to make an announcement on Monday about the number of people who can attend faith-based services.

“Given the difficulties many parishes would have in arranging at this short notice a Mass this weekend that would meet the Police guidelines, the bishops will be discussing the issue with parish leaderships and others over the weekend, in the hope of being able to make a definitive announcement on Monday after hearing from the Prime Minister,” Ms Dilly said.

Go to these links for PDFs of:

1: Bishops’ letter to the Prime Minister
2: Police Guidelines on Places of Worship
3: Ministry of Health statement on Level 2 event limits