|Daily Update from Bishop Cherry 9th April 2020|
|I am sorry to be giving updated guidance on funerals on this Maundy Thursday, the first day of the Triduum. It is, however, indicative of the kind of Holy Week we have all been travelling through this year. Sometimes, we are all too quick to jump to Easter and miss out the agony of Gethsemane and the desolation of Good Friday. This year, we are living with a constant reminder of the agony and desolation of thousands all around us and nigh on a million across the globe as a result of COVID-19. But Good Friday and Easter Day are held inextricably together within the love of God. The one cannot be without the other. And this we remember as we journey on.|
We also continue to remember in our prayers the sick and dying, the distressed and isolated, the carers and those worried sick for them.
Funeral services should not take place in churches at the current time. In this case, we are going a step further than legally required, but we believe that the wellbeing of mourners, ministers and other church officers is best served by this additional precaution.
Funeral services at the graveside may continue. Clergy and others duly licensed may also preside at funerals in crematoria. However, the Bishops strongly urge ministers who fall into any of the UK Government’s categorisations of persons at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus not to undertake such ministry personally, and to delegate to colleagues instead. The full list of such categories is available here.
In accordance with the most recent Welsh Government Regulations, attendance at these funerals must now by limited to the person responsible for arranging the funeral and a small number of mourners (who may be accompanied by a carer if necessary) invited to attend by the person responsible for arranging the funeral. Our view remains that for funerals at the graveside the ‘small number’ should not exceed ten. Everyone attending a funeral must take all reasonable measures to stay two metres away from someone not of their household.
We encourage clergy to communicate carefully with funeral directors, and to confirm that the funeral director will assume responsibility for compliance with the Regulations, including inviting mourners to be present and ensuring that social distancing measures are observed. The funeral should be kept brief, omitting optional parts of the funeral service.
The Church in Wales permits fees due under Welsh Church (Burial Grounds) Act 1945 to be waived in exceptional circumstances. We are sure that clergy will be sensitive to the current circumstances, and clergy are reminded that they are permitted to waive their ministry fees if they consider it appropriate to do so.
It is likely that Welsh Government Regulations regarding funerals will be further amended over coming weeks, in which case our guidance will be reviewed and amended. In due course we will issue guidance on services of remembrance for use once we are able to return to our church buildings.