Increased Church participation due to digital platforms say UK bishops

digital platforms

Livestreaming of Masses and digital platforms brought enormous congregations to Catholic churches say the bishops of England and Wales.

“We have discovered with online streaming, live streaming of Masses, that we get enormous congregations sometimes,” says Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool, the vice-president of the national bishops’ conference.

McMahon says that as a result of digital effort during the long COVID lockdown, the bishops plan to increase their digital footprint on the Internet and branch out to other more diverse media platforms.

The 71-year-old Dominican archbishop said participants at the Holy Week services were higher this year than at Liverpool’s cathedral due to the live streaming.

Thanking all those who give time to keep churches open and as havens of peace and prayer, the challenge is to bring faith to a “still greater expression and strength”, the bishops’ say in a statement “The Day of the Lord”.

The bishops’ say that ‘vibrant’ is a word that seems to have characterised so many of the parishes throughout the pandemic and they are keen to build on it.

They are full of praise for families, parish communities and those who have worked to face challenges of “ill-health, grief and isolation”.

However, the bishops say the pace of emerging from the pandemic “remains unclear” but they remain focussed on the challenge to bring faith communities and the practice of the faith to a still greater expression and strength.

In terms of moving forward post-Covid, the bishops have identified three groups requiring different mission responses.

  • The fearful and weary who are anxious about coming into enclosed spaces and who have lost the habit of coming to church and for whom personal contact and sensitive reassurance is needed.
  • Those who have reassessed their life pattern and priorities, and who now have widened the gap between the spiritual quest and a communal expression of that journey. The bishops say this group represents a particular focus for outreach.
  • The Covid curious; those who have come into contact with the Church through its presence on the Internet and it is the hope that Church will be able to have a continued presence among them through a range of diverse media platforms.

The last two groups represent different and particular challenges and they say they are looking forward to outreachinh using the strengths of the “veritable treasures” of the Church.

They conclude their statement reflecting on the “rightful” place of the Eucharist as being central to the Christian community calling Sunday ‘a weekly gift from God to his people’ and the ‘soul of the week’, and the Eucharist as the food for the unique mission with which all Catholics have been endowed.


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