COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Why suspend public Masses and not just limit them to ten persons?
We are trying to collaborate with both the letter and spirit of the restrictions that are in place. The purpose of this time of distancing is to stop the spread of a legitimately life-threatening illness. While celebrating funerals and already scheduled weddings within the new limitations is reasonable, other celebrations are to be set aside temporarily. Priests should still be offering the Mass privately, and this is still a source of grace for the Church. Home Masses, while not canonically or legally prohibited, are against the spirit of trying to stop the spread of this virus plus we can’t celebrate Mass in everyone’s home so it could also cause division and thus these are also not advised.
How long will this last?
We are uncertain. Hopefully, it will be a matter of weeks and not longer.
Can our Churches be open during this time?
Our churches should remain open as usual for people to stop in and pray.
What about the need for Funerals during this time?
These are limited to ten, including the priest. There are a couple of options. A priest could have ten total persons present and live stream the funeral Mass for others. Another option could be that the burial be celebrated now, and a Mass of Christian Burial in the absence of the body or a memorial Mass could be celebrated later. At outdoor burials, we should keep in mind appropriate distancing.
Can we celebrate the Sacrament of Confession?
These should take place, but they should be scheduled in such a way that groups do not congregate.
Can we celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism?
These can take place, but they should be limited to no more than ten people in the church.
Can Priests visit the sick?
These can take place, as usual. Please keep in mind we should still practice the appropriate distancing except of course for celebrating Holy Anointing if needed. Hospitals and Nursing Homes have protocols that Priests will need to follow as well.
What about Deacons, EMHCs and Home Communion Services or Visiting the Homebound?
Deacons and EMHCs are not permitted in this time to hold Communion Services, for others or for their own families. Visiting the homebound should also be suspended, unless in the case of illness, since the purpose of this time is to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Where possible, it is strongly encouraged that the homebound receive phone calls to reach out to them.
The strong desire to receive the Blessed Sacrament is a beautiful thing. However, this suspension will not be forever. Many of the world’s Catholics receive the Eucharist only a handful of times in a year. In order to do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus, we should encourage parishioners to break open the Scriptures, to pray as families, and to make spiritual communions.
What about Weddings that are scheduled during this time?
Weddings that have been scheduled during this time in which, all public Masses and communal celebrations of the Sacraments or other liturgies are indefinitely suspended, can still be celebrated however, they are limited to ten people, including the priest.