Archbishop Costelloe speaks on vaccines, pandemic, church issues

27 Jan 2022

By Amanda Murthy

Archbishop Costelloe at 6PR radio
Archbishop Costelloe at 6PR radio to talk about how the Catholic Church has coped with the pandemic so far. Photo: Karalee Katsambanis.

Two weeks after hosting a vaccination clinic at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB visited the 6PR studio on 20 January to have a chat with Liam Bartlett on how the pandemic has affected the way places of worship operate, the Catholic Church’s stance on vaccination and his personal thoughts on the WA border opening, originally set for 5 February.

Archbishop Costelloe began by noting that while the COVID experience has brought out the best in people, there are many still struggling to cope with all the challenges and changes that have taken part in the past two years.

“My experiences, certainly in the Catholic scene, and certainly the way we’re operating in the Archdiocese of Perth, we’re very committed to being fully cooperative with the government in terms of what’s required to keep people safe,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“We’re have been insistent on making sure we get the latest updates from the government including addressing conditions and restrictions and those sorts of things.

“But yes, it is a tough time for everybody…We’ve all got stories of our own families who are struggling, not only in Perth, but in other parts of the country, and many of our people who come from overseas,” he added.

Archbishop Costelloe said he remains sensitive to the fact that many of the elderly and vulnerable in the community, have been nervous to attend Mass especially with the presence of the newer strains of the virus – which led to him to temporarily suspend the obligation of attending Mass for those who are unable.

“At the start of the pandemic, numbers of people attending Mass were reasonably low. At some points, we were unable to open the churches, and that had an impact on people,” Archbishop Costelloe explained. 
“Generally, the numbers have risen again, but keeping in mind the elderly and vulnerable who are nervous, and reasonably so.”

Archbishop Costelloe reiterated the message of Pope Francis citing that “being vaccinated with vaccines authorised by the competent authorities is an act of love (and contributing to ensure most people are vaccinated is an act of love – love for oneself, love for one’s family and friends, love for all people).”

Archbishop Costelloe added that he is aware that several ministers of religion and parishioners are unvaccinated and that the Archdiocese of Perth will continue to do its part and encourage the faithful to vaccinate, in the interest of protecting oneself and the community.

Later that evening, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced a delay to the state’s hard border opening, due to the escalating health risks posed by the Omicron variant.

Along with this decision, the premier outlined exemptions for several groups of travellers, under the conditions that they be triple dose vaccinated against COVID-19 (if eligible).

  • Returning Western Australians, with strong recent connections or direct legitimate family connections with WA;
  • Compassionate grounds including funeral, palliative care or terminally ill visitation;
  • Member of the family of an approved traveller;
  • People entering for urgent and essential medical treatment;
  • Reasons of national and state security;
  • Commonwealth and State officials, Members of Parliament, Diplomats;
  • Provision of specialist skills not available in WA, health services, emergency service workers;
  • People required to attend court matters, judicial officers and staff of court, tribunals and commissions; and
  • Special considerations and extraordinary circumstances determined by the State Emergency Coordinator or Chief Health Officer.

Click Here to listen to the full interview with Archbishop Costelloe and Liam Bartlett