BY MARY WANG
ARCHBISHOP Patrick Kelly of Liverpool has urged people to take extra care of their neighbours during the severe weather conditions that have gripped the country.
As Britain struggles through the coldest winter for more than 30 years Archbishop Kelly issued a statement asking people to take care and put safety first.
In particular he asked parishioners not to attempt to go to Mass unless it was safe to do so.
He said: “The weather affects every aspect of our life. I have spoken with Bishop Brian Noble of Shrewsbury and we together offer this advice: unless you are certain it is safe for you to do so, whether it is by foot, car, or public transport, do not attempt to go to Mass – if in doubt stay at home and pray there, especially for those most affected at this time.” The extreme conditions have caused travel chaos, with airports closing and disruption on trains and roads. Councils have struggled to respond as salt and grit supplies decrease, adding to the concern for safety.
The archbishop himself has recently had to call off a journey to the Holy Land. He was due to lead a conference of Catholic bishops there but was not able to attend because of flight cancellations. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool, was due to host the Schools Epiphany Celebration but this was also cancelled due to the weather.
In his statement Archbishop Kelly offered thanks for those who work in the media who are constantly updating people with information on the conditions.
He said: “We have good reason to be very grateful for all those in the media, particularly in local radio, at this time.
“I think we will be concerned above all for those who are sick and those who serve them... care for one another is the priority in these days.” Archbishop Kelly also made a comment about funerals, highlighting difficulties for undertakers during the icy conditions: “I also encourage you at this time to be very understanding about funerals, if it is impossible, as many of you would wish, for the body to be carried into the church and the undertakers are only able to use their specially designed trolleys,” he said.
During the cold snap, dubbed the “big freeze” by the media, temperatures in the Scottish Highlands plunged to -8F (–22.3C), almost as cold as the South Pole. Hundreds of schools have been shut and a number of businesses have had to turn off their gas because of dwindling supplies.