CORONA VIRUS (COVID- 19) UPDATE:
The Bishops Conference of England and Wales has issued guidelines to enable Catholic churches and organisations to find the relevant information in one place.
UPDATE Wednesday 18 March:
A letter from the President and Vice-President on behalf of all the Bishops of the Conference
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, so many aspects of our lives must change. This includes the ways in which we publicly express our faith. It is very clear that, following official advice and in order to keep each other safe, save lives and support the NHS, at this time we must not gather for public acts of worship in our churches. This will begin from Friday evening, 20th March 2020, until further notice.
Our churches will remain open. They are not closing. They will be a focal point of prayer, where you will find solace and strength. In visiting our churches at this time, we will observe with great care the practices of hygiene and the guidance on social distancing.
However, the celebration of Mass, Sunday by Sunday and day by day, will take place without a public congregation.
Knowing that the Mass is being celebrated; joining in spiritually in that celebration; watching the live-streaming of the Mass; following its prayers at home; making an act of spiritual communion: this is how we share in the Sacrifice of Christ in these days. These are the ways in which we will sanctify Sunday, and indeed every day.
We want everyone to understand that in these emergency circumstances, and for as long as they last, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is removed. This is, without doubt, the teaching of the Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181). This pandemic is the ‘serious reason’ why this obligation does not apply at this time.
You will find more details about the pathway of prayer and sacramental life we are now to take in the accompanying document and on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.cbcew.org.uk). Your own bishop and parish priest will provide further support, encouragement and information about our way of prayer together in the coming weeks.
The second vital aspect of these challenging times is our care for each other. There are so many ways in which we are to do this: being attentive to the needs of our neighbour, especially the elderly and vulnerable; contributing to our local food banks; volunteering for charitable initiatives and organisations; simply keeping in touch by all the means open to us.
During these disturbing and threatening times, the rhythm of the prayer of the Church will continue. Please play your part in it. The effort of daily kindness and mutual support for all will continue and increase. Please play your part in this too. For your commitment to this, we thank you.
‘The Lord is my shepherd,
There is nothing I shall want.’
May God bless us all.
Vincent Cardinal Nichols, President
Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, Vice-President
18th March 2020
Liturgical Advice for the Bishops of England and Wales in the light of the COVID-19 Pandemic 18th March 2020
This advice will be reviewed and developed as necessary weekly
The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having consulted the Ordinaries of the Dioceses, has agreed that the cessation of public liturgies should begin from Friday evening 20th March 2020. Because of the situation the Church finds herself in, the obligation for the faithful to attend Holy Mass on a Sunday or Holy day of Obligation is removed, until further notice.
The following instruction is now given for the celebration of the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church at this time.
Celebrations of Holy Mass
Priests (parish priest and assistant priests) who hold parochial office should continue to celebrate Mass in a church within their parish without the faithful on a daily basis. Other priests (i.e. retired from office or entrusted with a non-parochial ministry) may celebrate Mass without the faithful in a church, chapel or their private home. Deacons should not participate in these celebrations.
The continuing celebration of Mass ensures that the faithful can join in spiritual communion with the priests of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states (1364): As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out. Daily liturgical resources for those at home, including those for making a “Spiritual Communion” with the priest, will be available on the CBCEW website.
Information about the live-streaming of the celebration of Mass will be made widely available in our dioceses so that the faithful can participate in the prayers of the priest at Mass at home. A fine example of this is from The National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham will continue its full liturgical programme and this will be available to all via the Internet (www.walsingham.org.uk)
Wherever possible, during this period, churches will remain open, especially on Sundays, for individual private prayer, without any organised services, and offering prayer before the Blessed Sacrament
The Coronavirus Latest Advice Sunday 15th March 2020 : The spread of this virus is everyone primary concern. The national advice at Masses has been updated. It has now moved from containing stage to a delaying of the spread. What does it mean for us in the parish? It means that from now until further notice, we shall temporarily cease the tradition of shaking hands and distribution of the chalice, receive Holy Communion only on the hand, No shared hymn and parish Mass books – all to be projected on screen. But if you have difficulties in reading from screen, please ask Sr Joan to give you a copy and keep using until this suspension is lifted. Tea, Coffee and biscuits after Mass in parish hall is also suspended. Hall will be opened for anybody wanting to go there, and to access toilets or washrooms. If you have cold or flu, please isolate yourself immediately from others – stay home, and call 111 if necessary. We also ask you to make sure you wash your hands and use hand gel as regular as possible and certainly before and after the church. First offertory collection – NO passing on of baskets. Second collections will be taken as retiring collection at the end of Mass as you leave the church. More here https://www.cbcew.org.uk/home/our-work/health-social-care/coronavirus-guidelines/
CORONA VIRUS GUIDELINES (COVID-19) Sunday 16th February 2020: Advice for Parishes and Community Facilities from (CBCEW): The key things to do are: (1) Ensure everyone maintains good hygiene especially at Mass and parish gatherings. The best way of protecting us from spread is for everyone to use universal good hygiene, which will effectively disrupt spread of the virus. We should be doing this all the time for ‘flu: “Catch it – sneeze into a tissue, Bin it – bin the tissue, Kill it – wash your hands with soap and water, Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands”. (2) Ask anyone with cold or flu symptoms to refrain from taking communion from the Chalice and receive the host on the hand only. (We should be doing this anyway, every ‘flu season.) (3) Ensure good regular cleaning of surfaces lots of people touch regularly. (4) Ensure you combat discrimination against Chinese people and others wrongly assumed to have or be spreading the virus. (5) Display the public information poster (See Further Materials below). (6) Consider asking everyone at large gatherings like Mass to sanitise their hands as they come in, especially communal meals. (7) Ensure Ministers of the Eucharist sanitise their hands before and after distributing communion (we should be doing this anyway as a matter of course.) This can be done by washing hands discreetly before proceeding to the sanctuary or using good quality hand gel discreetly. Remember to use good hand washing and gel use technique. You can find more here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthybody/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/ and a poster here: https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/resources/posters/en/ (8) There is no need as things stand, for the Chalice to be withdrawn or the sign of peace suspended, such as was advised during the 2009 ‘flu pandemic. (9) If people are not known to have coronavirus or flu-like symptoms or not asked to self-isolate because they have recently returned from an area of very high prevalence, pastoral visiting is fine. Community Facilities e.g. Hall/Centre: (1) Follow the hygiene advice for parishes. (2) If you have a suspected case of someone in a school, it is best to put the person in a room away from others while you take immediate advice from NHS 111 or NHS Direct. Follow advice from there. More information on parish notice board or go to http://www.cbcew.org.uk for more information, or https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronaviruswhat-you-need-to-know