Durham Cathedral demands Covid passes from worshippers

O Come All Ye Vaccinated Faithful: Durham Cathedral is demanding Covid passes from worshippers in defiance of official Church of England guidance

  • Durham Cathedral is demanding Covid passes from worshippers – in defiance of official Church of England guidance
  • The move has sparked anger amid claims that it is ‘profoundly at odds’ with the spirit of the festive season 
  • In its Covid guidance, the Church says it has ‘a clear policy of encouraging people to be vaccinated’

Durham Cathedral is demanding Covid passes from worshippers – in defiance of official Church of England guidance. 

Those attending Christmas services will need to show proof either that they are vaccinated, have tested negative within the previous 48 hours or have recovered from the virus. 

The move has sparked anger amid claims that it is ‘profoundly at odds’ with the spirit of the festive season. 

In its Covid guidance, the Church says it has ‘a clear policy of encouraging people to be vaccinated, but, other than in very exceptional circumstances, [it is opposed] to limiting access to church services or organisations on the basis of vaccine certification’. 

Durham Cathedral is demanding Covid passes from worshippers – in defiance of official Church of England guidance. Pictured: The Bishop of Durham, The Right Reverend Paul Butler

It adds: ‘Such an approach would run contrary to the principle of the Church being a home and a refuge for all.’ 

But authorities at the 928-year-old cathedral – which is the seat of the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler – said they have ‘taken a cautious approach to the Covid-19 restrictions from the start of the pandemic and we’re continuing to keep measures in place to minimise risk and reduce the pressure on our NHS services’. 

Around 80 per cent of its festive services will require a Covid pass. 

The Rev Jamie Franklin, one of 1,000 church leaders to send Boris Johnson an open letter describing vaccine passports as a ‘fundamental betrayal of Christian belief’, urged the dean and chapter to reconsider their stance.  

He said: ‘Christmas is a time when we remember God’s willingness to be with the lowly, the outcast and the poor. 

‘The decision to bar from entry to church a sub-section of society who are deemed to be unclean and dangerous is profoundly at odds with the Christmas message.’ 

Jodie Beck, of civil rights group Liberty, said: ‘Durham Cathedral should not be arbitrarily making rules that affect how people can access services.’ 

The Church of England said: ‘We won’t be commenting on Durham Cathedral.’ 

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