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Don’t normalise Covid death toll, declares US dean

18 December 2020

PA

Washington National Cathedral pictured in February

Washington National Cathedral pictured in February

THE 300,000 deaths caused by the pandemic must not be seen as normal, or just “the price we must pay for living in a free society”, the Dean of Washington National Cathedral, the Very Revd Randy Hollerith, has said.

On Tuesday, at 5 p.m., the 12-tonne bell inside the cathedral tolled 300 times: once for every 1000 people who have died so far as a result of Covid-19 in the United States. The number of reported cases has reached 16 million.

The cathedral bell tolled 200 times on 20 September to mark 200,000 deaths from the virus.

Dean Hollerith said on Monday: “We have reached the point in America where the death toll from Covid-19 for just one day was the equivalent of 16 fully loaded 737 jets falling from the sky. . .

“I have grown weary of tolling this bell. I don’t want to toll this bell any more. I don’t want to lose any more lives. I don’t want us to think this is normal, or that it is just the price we must pay for living in a free society. God forgive us if we find ourselves tolling this bell again at 400,000 lives lost.”

He urged people to remember the small actions that they could take to prevent the spread of the virus. “The Christian faith teaches that each person is a beloved child of God, and that my well-being is deeply connected to your well-being. We are not lone individuals free from responsibility; rather, we are dependent upon one another for our very lives, and commanded to love our neighbours as ourselves.

“There are simple things we can do — wear a mask, keep our distance, adjust our holiday plans — to show our mutual respect and concern for one another. Yes, we are tired from the confines and struggles of this pandemic, and, yes, it’s been a long nine months. But now, more than ever, we have to protect each other because there has been far too much death. A vaccine is coming, and we will get through these difficult days, but we will only succeed if we do it together.”

There are fears in the United States that the winter months could lead to even higher rates of infection and death. The diocese of Mississippi and the diocese of California are among those that, earlier this month, suspended in-person services during Advent and Christmas.

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