Bishop Malooly has encouraged pastors in the Diocese of Wilmington to follow guidelines from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that suggest preventative measures to guard against the spread of coronavirus. See details below. (Check back with thedialog.org for up-to-the-minute updates)
In light of more cases of the novel coronavirus being reported in the United States and based on guidance from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Divine Worship, Bishop Malooly offers the following guidelines for consideration by pastors in the Diocese of Wilmington:
- Presence at Mass
- Assure the faithful that if they are sick or are experiencing symptoms of sickness they are not obliged to attend Mass, and even that out of charity they ought not to attend. Those who are sick with contagious ailments are encouraged to stay home and not attend church services. Missing Mass because of an illness is not a sin.
- Vessels, Holy Water, and Environment
- Ensure all vessels used at Mass, once purified, are thoroughly washed with soap and hot water after each use.
- Holy Water fonts should be drained, cleaned and sanitized, and refilled regularly. Alternately, they may be drained and remain empty at the discretion of each pastor.
- Areas that frequently come into contact with hands (e.g. door knobs, tops of pews) should be disinfected frequently.
- Priests, deacons, altar servers, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should wash their hands immediately before and after Mass.
- Likewise, they should use an alcohol-based, anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion, discerning how to do this while maintaining the reverence of the Mass.
- The Lord’s Prayer
- The practice of holding of hands during the Lord’s Prayer should be abandoned.
- Sign of Peace:
- Suspend the exchange of the sign of peace, that is proceeding directly to the Lamb of God immediately following the dialogue: The peace of the Lord be with you always. R./ And with your spirit. without the instruction Let us offer each other the sign of peace. Alternately, the sign of peace could be exchanged without physical contact, e.g. forgo the shaking of hands and instead greet one another with a bow and the words “Peace be with you.”
- Distribution of Holy Communion
- Parishioners always have the option to receive Communion on their tongue or in their hands. No prohibition may be made by any pastor, priest, or other minister against either of these options. Ministers should be advised to take care not to touch the tongue or hand of communicants.
- Suspending the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful via the chalice.