A few weeks ago the Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued guidance for us on how the growing Coronavirus might affect how we come together for worship in church, in line with guidance given during earlier out-breaks. The document is very substantial and can be downloaded from the CBCEW Website .
Much of the advice reproduces what has appeared from the health service and elsewhere – for example, advice about coughing into a tissue and the circumstances under which one should self-quarantine. As far as the celebration of Mass is concerned, these are the most important points, which are worth following all the time, not simply when there is public health concern:
Special Ministers of Holy Communion should ensure their hands are clean before they carry out their ministry; as in the past special anti-bacterial gel will be available in the sanctuary;
Those who have cold or ‘flu symptoms should refrain from shaking hands at the sign of Peace, receiv-ing the Sacred Host on the tongue and receiving from the chalice (receiving the Precious Blood by intinction (dipping a consecrated Host in the chalice not normally permitted in this country)
The second piece of advice is only directed at one group – those who have the symptoms mentioned; again the advice is good all the time. There is no justification at present for a general prohibition of normal liturgical acts. It is worth bearing in mind that if you are ill you are not obliged to go to Mass; indeed if you are infectious or vulnerable to infection you shouldn’t go to Mass – you should show consideration to other people.
Please remember in your prayers all those suffering from this virus throughout the world and those trying to find a vaccine.