Archbishop Glenn Davies has called for fervent prayer and Christian love, in the wake of the Federal Government's latest announcement on Coronavirus.
The Prime Minister has announced that from Monday 16 March, groups should restrict non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people. This includes church services and events.
"What we're doing here is taking an abundance of caution approach as we have all the way through. What we're seeking to do is lower the level of overall risk and at the same time ensure that we minimise any broader disruption that is not necessary at this stage to engage in. So what that means is this is why we've said non-essential organised gatherings of 500 or more people," Mr Morrison said. "It doesn't eliminate all risk. This is not an absolute measure. This is a matter of state and territory governments, together with the Commonwealth, exercising an abundance of caution in the interests of Australians. It's also why we have agreed today to join together in a national cabinet. A national cabinet for an emergency response to these issues that enables us to manage this on a day to day, week to week basis."
Asked specifically about churches, Mr Morrison said "That is an organised gathering and while I always consider it essential for me to go along, I think any of those social gatherings that are organised, that don't involve your daily work, or your education, or things of that nature, then obviously I think church organisations and church groups are going to have to make arrangements as well, in relation to how large their gatherings are. Now, I know because I go to one of those churches where there are a lot of people that go along. I suspect they'll do something common sense, like hold multiple services at different periods of time, over the course of a weekend, so all of their parishioners can come along. But having more than a particular amount in one place at one time, I would have no doubt that they would honour the advice that is being given to them about how many people should get together in one place on an organised basis, for several hours." Asked whether he would attend church, the PM said "I have no doubt that the church services that I go to regularly will be able to comply with the instruction that will be given, and I am pretty sure that our pastors would put some pretty common-sense arrangements in place."
Archbishop Davies issued a statement saying the Diocese accepts the Commonwealth Government's health advice.
"We are in contact with the NSW Health Department and will pass on their advice to ministers of churches where decisions will be made locally," the Archbishop said.
"We expect smaller gatherings to go ahead with the safeguards already advised, including precautions relating to personal contact, holy communion and food service. I call on Christians to continue to trust in God's goodness and mercy, to pray that the global spread of this disease may slow, and to show Christ's love to those affected."
The Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, has written a prayer for use by churches and Christians, in the weeks ahead.
Sovereign Lord, you are the hope and healer of your people and have promised a world where there is no more sickness or crying or death.
By your death and resurrection you have set your people free from the penalty of sin and death.
We pray your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Please prosper the work of those who are seeking a vaccine for the coronavirus, please strengthen those who are treating the sick, please comfort those who are mourning the loss of loved ones or living in fear of this disease.
Please give to governing authorities wisdom in their management of this crisis, and give to your people your peace beyond understanding, generous and wise hearts and a renewed trust in your sovereign goodness and glory.
Turn the hearts of many now experiencing fear and anxiety that they they may find that peace which is the fruit of the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray, Amen.