Sunday mass services in Thurso and Wick still to be held
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Mass services at the Roman Catholic churches in both Thurso and Wick will still go ahead this Sunday.
Fr Colin Davies, the parish priest at both St Anne's in Thurso and St Joachim's in Wick confirmed that the weekly services will be held despite growing concerns surrounding the Coronavirus situation.
Catholic bishops in Scotland are to have a meeting on Wednesday to assess the current situation and to make a decision that could suspend public masses.
This comes after the north of Ireland-based diocese, Down & Connor – which counts Belfast amongst its parishes – said that worshippers would have their obligation to attended mass dispensed with as mass services would be suspended from Wednesday onwards.
However, as of yet, no directive has been imposed up Catholic worshippers in Scotland – although Fr Davies himself has taken it upon himself to lay down other measures.
He said: "I have cancelled weekday celebrations of mass for both St Anne's and St Joachim's.
"Although this is not an official directive from the Church, this one has been my own decision.
"As it stands, mass services on Sunday, both in Wick and Thurso, will go ahead as scheduled.
"With regard to the elderly – those aged 70 and over – and also people who already have underlying illnesses, they are not obligated to attend mass.
For those wanting to have their confession heard, that will still be available. I cannot refuse confession if it is asked for
"People of course will make their own decision whether or not to attend. We have already seen a drop in attendances recently.
"The bishops will be meeting on Wednesday so the decision to go ahead with mass on Sunday could change. We will have to wait and see.
"For those wanting to have their confession heard, that will still be available. I cannot refuse confession if it is asked for."
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Aberdeen, Rt Rev Hugh Gilbert – whose dioceses covers Caithness, echoed Fr Davies in saying that those with existing health issues were not obligated to attend Sunday mass.
In a statement he said: "We can trust people to make sensible choices about whether to attend or not.
"They can be reminded, through the usual parish means, that health reasons exempt from the Sunday obligation.
"It is elderly people with diabetes, or chest, heart and lung problems, as we know, who will be particularly vulnerable.
"The scene is a moving one, with many aspects, and any guidelines are necessarily provisional.
"Nor can every possible situation be anticipated. I would ask, though, that the earlier guidelines be adhered to until further notice, and that we continue to go about our pastoral work as usual."