The Church of England recommends that its churches keep their doors open outside service times as best practice. It says churches are actually more likely to be attacked when they are locked, “possibly as criminals feel they are less likely to be disturbed in a closed church than one where anyone could appear at any time”. Ecclesiastical, the largest insurer to the Church of England, also suggests that churches keep their doors open. Its advice says that “where appropriate that churches are kept open because of the positive effect that has on security”, and adds that keeping a church open during the day with proper risk assessment would not increase insurance premiums. A spokesman for the Catholic bishops in England and Wales said there was no country-wide policy about keeping church doors open, but the decision was down to each individual bishop. It is not known which diocese the Bishop of Portsmouth was visiting. In the 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis said: “The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. “One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door.”In 2015 he said at a general audience in St Peter’s Square that churches should make people feel welcome by keeping doors open. A spokeswoman for the Catholic National Mutual Limited, the main insurer for Catholic dioceses in the UK, said: “Churches are places of worship and sanctuary, and it is important that they remain open and accessible to all. “Accordingly, CNM Ltd does not interfere with or influence the opening hours of churches, nor does this have any impact on insurance premiums.”A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Westminster, another Catholic diocese, said that many of its churches in London had been forced to lock their doors following vandalism. Catholic churches should follow the Church of England to keep their doors open outside of services, the bishop of Portsmouth has said. Philip Egan complained that on a recent visit outside his diocese he had been unable to visit any churches because they had all been shut. In a Tweet posted on Sunday he said: “Why oh why?! Just spent a few days outside the Diocese but every Catholic church I tried to visit was locked. “One even had the utter hypocrisy to display a poster ‘From Maintenance to Mission’! Why is this, when every Anglican Church is welcomely open?” Why oh why?! Just spent a few days outside the Diocese but every Catholic church I tried to visit was locked. One even had the utter hypocrisy to display a poster ‘From Maintenance to Mission’! Why is this, when every Anglican Church is welcomely open?— Bishop Philip Egan (@BishopEgan) January 14, 2018 She added that protecting the sacrament was a particular concern. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
THE IRISH HOSPICE Foundation has called for the HSE to extend the eligibility period of the emergency medical card for people who are approaching the end of life.Currently, people who are terminally ill and are nearing the end of their lives are entitled to a card for six months without a means test, once the prognisis is certified by a medical practitioner.However the IHF said one in five patients who gets mediical cards on this basis lives beyond six months and the renewal process may be upsetting for patients and their families.In its submission to the expert group which is reviewing the medical card system, the foundation said it is concerned that the current focus on specific conditions will “overlook those who may not fit easily into any diagnosis, but for whom life expectancy is still limited, including older people who are becoming increasing frail”.It recommended that the renewal process should involve contacting the certifying doctor for an update rather than a means test form being issued to the patient who is at the end of the life.In its submission the IHF also said that information on the availability of medical cards granted on terminal illness grounds needs to be made available on the HSE and other relevant websites in a form readily accessible to the general public.It pointed out that there is no mention of the emergency medical card on terminal illness ground on the website currently, with the result that people who would qualify but who do not have the services of a medical social worker or palliative care attendant may not be aware of their entitlement.IHF Chief Executive Sharon Foley said the current provision of medical cards without means test for people who are approaching end of life is “appropriate, compassionate and cost effective”.However she added that the review must be used as an opportunity to amend and improve the process.Read: Children’s hospice LauraLynn to begin providing home care>Read: Are you comfortable talking about death and dying?> read more