Livestreaming Mass could be safer by Stephen Pittman

A priest friend decided not to livestream his Masses during the pandemic. “I don’t want the bishop seeing what I’m doing,” he quipped. But one of the benefits of the pandemic is that so many parishes have developed their technology and, in a very short time, livestreaming has become the norm.


However, this week the bishops have reminded us of the importance of attending Mass in person, rather than simply tuning in from the comfort of the sofa. And there’s no doubt that joining fellow parishioners is a key part of the celebration.


But the bishops include a small get-out clause. “For some, there is legitimate fear in gathering together,” they say. “We recognise that these prevailing circumstances suggest that not everyone is yet in the position to fulfil the absolute duty to attend freely Sunday Mass.”


It’s possible numbers will not return to pre-pandemic levels for a while.


Francis Brough is also concerned about falling numbers. There are, he says, fewer churches, fewer Masses – and fewer people attending them. He has a point – the days of five morning Masses and afternoon devotions are long gone. So often, large churches have several small congregations over a typical weekend. Perhaps a better use of resources would be to have one or two, comfortably busy, Masses each week. Bringing the parish together can only help develop community. But, as the bishops said this week, Covid is still around. Now is not the time to overfill our buildings.


The Funeral Mass of Sir David Amess will be livestreamed from Westminster Cathedral. It’s quite fitting that a public servant should have a public funeral. But this will be a tough one for his family – they have waited far too long to say goodbye to this husband and father. And, doubtless, Westminster Cathedral will be packed. Livestreaming will mean many more of Sir David’s constituents will be able to join the celebration.


Pope Francis has been busy thanking people over the last few days. He has thanked journalists for exposing cases of abuse in the Church. But he has also thanked the priests, nuns and laypeople who have helped people with HIV and AIDS. Back in the 1980s, he said, they did so “at great risk to their profession and reputation”. Many in our community do so much for others and a small “thank you” goes a long way. And that doesn’t have to come from the Pope – but it’s great to know he noticed.

Stephen P