Sydney Archbishop tells churches to expect good news
Will COVID restrictions be eased tomorrow?
Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies told churches to expect good news tomorrow in a recent tweet that might suggest an easing of COVID restrictions on church gatherings.
I met with Minister Brad Hazzard yesterday. I assured him of our prayers as we all work together to stop COVID-19. We spoke about inconsistencies in current rules and he assured me that an announcement tomorrow will help churches better serve our communities. #Covidsafe #COVIDnsw
— Archbp Glenn Davies (@abpdavies) October 19, 2020
While Davies doesn’t specify how churches “will be better able to serve our communities”, this may be just the news that church leaders in NSW at least have been hoping for.
Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres has also given a big hint of changes. Speaking to Ben Fordham on 2GB, Ayres said he had seen criticism tweeted by Hillsong pastor Brian Houston on Monday and he said the government hoped to announce new rules soon, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. “We are working with the religious organisations at the moment and we are hoping we will get close to this one very soon,” he said.
Eternity yesterday took the pulse of increasing frustration among church leaders about alleged double standards of restrictions on churches when compared to other places of gathering, like restaurants and bars.
In Victoria, where restrictions on the number of patrons in churches is tightest, a petition endorsed by major Christian organisations garnered over 10,000 signatures. This followed a previous petition by 295 Victorian evangelical church leaders, calling for church gatherings to be declared an essential service.
However, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has not given any indication that his stance on church restrictions will change any time soon, maintaining that churches pose a greater risk of COVID spread than other highly-regulated industries.
Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli told the Catholic Weekly he would “respectfully challenge” this presumption and the “unfair” way Victoria’s faith communities had been treated in the easing of lockdown restrictions.
“I think a lot of people particularly within public health are putting forward proposals … in ways that are not transparent. There’s no reasoning offered for why there is the disparity between going to a pub and going to your church. And there seems to be no moving towards parity as each new stage comes on board,” said Comensoli.
In the meantime, Sydney churches eagerly await the NSW health minister’s announcement tomorrow.