Skip to comments.US bishops' guidelines for reopening Mass: groups of 10, sanitizer during Communion
Posted on 05/08/2020 8:46:47 PM PDT by one guy in new jersey
The U.S. bishops' conference has forwarded a set of recommendations to Catholic prelates across the country, proposing various paths forward for how they might restart the public celebration of the Mass in their dioceses despite the continued fear of the spread of the coronavirus.
In an April 30 memorandum obtained by NCR, Archbishop Leonard Blair, head of the bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, suggests the prelates consider a series of guidelines prepared by the Thomistic Institute at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington.
Taking their cue from the Trump administration's "Opening Up America Again" plan, which says the country will return to normalcy in three phases, the guidelines offer possibilities for celebrations of the Mass first in gatherings of 10 people, then 50 and then on a more regular, unlimited basis.
Among the recommendations for the first phase: limiting access to the Mass via either a first-come, first-served system or on a rotational basis, asking congregants (but not presiders) to wear masks, and using hand sanitizer during distribution of Communion, which, they suggest, may still be received on the tongue.
Blair, who also leads the archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut., says in his memo that he is providing the recommendations to the country's prelates so that "if bishops decide to proceed in a particular manner, then the guidelines specify the medical precautions that can and need to be taken."
"Determining local solutions will require prudential judgment, as well as respect for sound liturgical practice and above all respect for the matter and form of the sacraments," he states. "We can also anticipate that people will disagree on some points."
Addressing the first phase in the Trump administration's plan, the guidelines suggest that bishops could allow for public celebration of the Mass with "greater frequency" for groups of 10 people or fewer, while still encouraging those in populations with special risk to the coronavirus to stay home.
They recommend that parishes use tape to mark where people should sit to maintain six feet of distance between one another, and that choirs not be used, "as vigorous singing, especially in close proximity to others, may increase the risk of viral spread."
Although they ask participants in the Mass to wear masks, they discourage the priest celebrant and other ministers from doing so, instead suggesting that they keep 6 feet of distance from one another at all times.
"The Mass is imbued with powerful sacramental and liturgical symbolism," they say. "Wearing a mask and gloves would be a detrimental counter-sign in this context, and it is not warranted by considerations of hygiene if the priest remains a proper distance from the congregation."
Turning to the issue of Communion, the guidelines suggest that the distribution of the Eucharist be moved to take place at the end of the Mass. They propose that a table be set up at each communion station with a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Mass participants are then to come forward, removing their masks to receive Communion.
"Holy Communion may not be distributed with gloves, nor may it be received in the hand if a member of the faithful is wearing gloves," say the guidelines.
"Hand hygiene is effective against the virus," they state. "In these circumstances, gloves are not needed if the priest performs hand hygiene."
Addressing the question of whether Communion should be taken in the hand or on the tongue, the guidelines state: "We believe that, with the precautions listed here, it is possible to distribute on the tongue without unreasonable risk."
"Opinions on this point are varied within the medical and scientific community: some believe Communion on the tongue involves an elevated and, in the light of all the circumstances, an unreasonable risk; others disagree," they state. "If Communion on the tongue is provided, one could consider using hand sanitizer after each communicant who receives on the tongue."
The Thomistic Institute's guidelines, which are available online, were authored by a working group that includes two medical doctors: Timothy Flanagan, an infectious disease specialist at Brown University's Alpert Medical School and Thomas McGovern, a specialist in micrographic surgery in Indiana.
The group also includes four Dominicans -- one biology professor and three theologians -- and Fr. Paul Scalia, the vicar for clergy of the diocese of Arlington, Virginia and a son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
The Institute says the guidelines were then reviewed by four other medical doctors, another Arlington priest, another Dominican and Msgr. Robert Vitillo, secretary general of the International Catholic Migration Commission.
Blair's memo also recommends guidelines the Thomistic Institute has prepared for restarting the practice of confession, and for how to anoint the sick while preventing spread of the virus.
For confession during the first phase of reopening, the Institute suggests that the sacrament can be practiced in person while keeping a 6-foot distance between the confessor and penitent.
This is a disgrace. The Bishops are mostly democrats/liberals. Our 7:30am Mass on Sunday has 1 Priest, 1 Deacon, 4 altar servers, 2 readers and 5 musicians. That’s already 13 people. So, no one could attend, and our Parish has 5000 families.
They should meet at Home Depot on the plumbing isle, holds more people .
I was afraid of this.
Well they will have to cut back so that others may attend.
2 altar boys
That allows four parishioners to attend.
Cut back one altar boy and one musician and six parishioners could attend.
Wow. 5,000 families. That’s a whole lot of pent up demand in your neighborhood.
I’ve personally been tracking statements at the bishop level or higher to try to “divine” whether less-than-reverent local ordinaries (top bishops in individual dioceses or archdioceses) in the U.S. will seek to use the current crisis as an opportunity to poor-mouth, or worse, enact a temporarily or permanently ban on, the age-old pious practice of receiving the Consecrated Host, the Most Holy Sacrament, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ Alive and Resurrected, on the tongue directly from the hand of the priest and Celebrant.
I think I could accept almost any temporary restriction, as long as when my chance comes up to assist in person at Holy Mass, I am permitted to receive Holy Communion on my knees and on the tongue, as has been my practice for years now at my local Novus Ordo parish.
Ridiculous. Everyone should attend. If God’s will is that some will contract CV then deal with it.
A fearful shepherd cannot lead a flock and keep the wolves at bay.
OMG! A bad cold! All praise Satan! /sarc
The recommendation that vigorous singing be discouraged is laughable. Ive been attending masses for over 50 years, and havent heard much singing at all. Well, maybe one Christmas in Tucson...
Mandatory communion in the hand versus directly on the tongue has been one of the modernists’ intentions for the Catholic Church for over 50 years. They wish to water down reverence for and further reduce knowledge about the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. Appreciation for the sacrificial aspect of the Catholic Mass is also a big target. One gets the sense that the modernists are determined to ramrod this change through now on the pretense that it is a necessary precaution against COVID-19. So few prelates are showing themselves willing to defend the Church’s nearly 2000-year-old practice in this regard that the next few weeks are likely to be quite dicey.
The idea of only ten people is totally stupid. How about moving to something more reasonable as in 25% capacity with families being 6 ft from another family, staggered in the pews? Then move towards 50% capacity, then 75%, till we get back to normal.
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