Statement of Bishop Dennis Sullivan, Diocese of Camden, regarding Covid-19 Impacts on Celebration of Holy Week, Triduum, Easter

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CAMDEN - As Bishop of the Diocese of Camden, in light of further restrictions by Gov. Murphy and the Decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments, Bishop Dennis Sullivan promulgates the following regarding the liturgies of Palm Sunday and Holy Week throughout the Diocese of Camden to assist the clergy and the faithful in the spiritual celebration of the Paschal Mysteries:

 

PALM SUNDAY

 

On Palm Sunday there is to be NO PUBLIC GATHERING (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

 

The Mass for Palm Sunday will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation, with palms blessed, and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan website/YouTube/Facebook at 10:30 am on April 5, 2020. 

 

In parish churches, the Mass for Palm Sunday may be celebrated without a congregation (only one deacon; one person to operate the live streaming equipment if the liturgy is being live streamed; one lector; one cantor and one musician in addition to resident clergy) by the pastor/parish. Blessed palms can be made available for distribution at a later date – they are NOT TO BE DISTRIBUTED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE at this time.

 

CHRISM MASS

 

The Chrism Mass will be postponed and re-scheduled for another date/time with the renewal of priestly commitment and the blessing/consecration of oils occurring at that time. Oils/chrism from the current supplies (currently in use) may continue to be used until a new supply is blessed/consecrated and made available.

 

PASCHAL TRIDUUM

 

The following liturgical directives are to be observed in accordance with the “Decree in Time of COVID-19” issued on March 19, 2020 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff for the year

2020 only. The Paschal Triduum cannot be transferred to another time.

 

HOLY THURSDAY

 

No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.). Televised or live-stream broadcasts should be live (not recorded).

The Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan website/YouTube/Facebook at 7 p.m.  April 9, 2020.

 

In parish churches, the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper may be celebrated without a congregation (only one person to operate the live streaming equipment if the liturgy is being live streamed; one lector; one cantor and one musician in addition to resident clergy) by the pastor/parish priest; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam.

 

During the Evening Mass for the Lord’s Supper:

  1. The Washing of the Feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted;
  2. The usual procession with the Blessed Sacrament to a place of repose is to be omitted and the Blessed Sacrament should be kept in the tabernacle, as usual; please understand that NO PROCESSIONS WITH THE BLESSED SACRAMENT are to take place and ALTARS OF REPOSE are not to be created;
  3. The faithful are to be informed that parish churches will NOT BE OPEN for the usual visitation of churches on Holy Thursday evening. Pastors are NOT PERMITTED to leave their churches open at this time.

Priests who are unable to celebrate Mass should instead pray Vespers of the day from the Liturgy of Hours instead.

 

GOOD FRIDAY

 

No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

 

The Commemoration/Celebration of the Lord’s Passion will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan website/YouTube/Facebook at 3 pm on Friday, April 10, 2020.

 

In parish churches, the Commemoration/Celebration of the Lord’s Passion may be celebrated without a congregation (only one deacon; one person to operate the live streaming equipment if the liturgy is being live streamed; one lector; one cantor and one musician in addition to resident clergy) by the pastor/parish priest; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam.

 

During the Good Friday Service

  1. Veneration of the Holy Cross takes place by those present with a simple genuflection; the Cross is not to be reverenced with a kiss;
  2. A special commemoration in the General Intercessions for the sick, the dead and for those who feel lost or dismayed will be developed by the Office of Worship and sent to the parishes for mandated use.

 

Priests who are unable to celebrate this liturgy should instead pray Vespers of the day from the Liturgy of Hours instead.

 

HOLY SATURDAY

 

No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

 

The Easter Vigil will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan website/YouTube/Facebook at 7 pm on April 11, 2020.

 

In parish churches, the Easter Vigil may be celebrated without a congregation (only one deacon; one person to operate the live streaming equipment if the liturgy is being live streamed; one lector; one cantor and one musician in addition to resident clergy) by the pastor/parish priest; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam.

 

During the Easter Vigil:

  1. The preparation and lighting of the fire is omitted;
  2. The paschal candle is lit without procession followed by the recited Easter Proclamation;
  3. The Liturgy of the Word takes place;
  4. The Baptismal Liturgy is only the renewal of Baptismal Promises; a symbolic (small) amount of Holy Water may be blessed but holy water fonts are to remain empty;
  5. The Rite of Christian Initiation and/or Reception into Full Communion will be postponed and re-scheduled once restrictions are lifted – more details will be provided at that time.

 

Priests who are unable to celebrate the Easter Vigil should instead pray Vespers/Matins/Lauds of the day from the Liturgy of Hours instead.

 

EASTER SUNDAY

 

No public gatherings (inside or outside Churches, in cars, etc.).

 

Mass for Easter Sunday will be celebrated by the Bishop without a congregation and broadcast via the live-stream internet on the Diocesan website/YouTube/Facebook at 10:30 a.m.  April 12, 2020.

 

In parish churches, Mass for Easter Sunday may be celebrated without a congregation (only one deacon; one person to operate the live streaming equipment if the liturgy is being live streamed; one lector; one cantor and one musician in addition to resident clergy) by the pastor/parish priest; pastors should notify the parishioners of the time for the live-steam.

 

Priests are otherwise asked to celebrate Easter Sunday Masses without a congregation.

 

This decree is given by mandate of the Bishop, Most Reverend Dennis J. Sullivan, D.D., March 23, 2020, for the Diocese of Camden.

 

OTHER NOTES AND ISSUES

 

Clarification on Open Churches: - The only instruction given about the closure of churches is for HOLY THURSDAY EVENING. Churches are to be closed that evening and the faithful are to be instructed that the traditional visitation to three or more churches is not permitted. 

 

Aside from these times, churches may be open but pastors are NOT TO ENCOURAGE people to come to church – parishes are not to be hosting times for Adoration, Rosary or other devotions. They are open for those who may wish to make a short visit. If a pastor believes that his parish church should be closed for security reasons or if it is usually closed during the day – he may elect to keep the church closed. Notification of such, if not already common knowledge among parishioners, should be made. 

 

Sacrament of Penance: - there is no obligation to provide regular times for confession during this pandemic. If pastors choose

to do so, they must impose strict social distancing guidelines. Confessionals are not appropriate for use at this time due to the proximity of the priest to the penitent. Another suitable space where the priest and penitent can be separated by six feet should be used. Anonymity can be provided by turning the priest’s chair away from that of the penitent. If confessions are being held, pastors must devise a system limiting access to the church to no more than ten people and keeping those awaiting confession at least six feet from each other. Reminders about social distancing are to be posted.

 

Confessions CANNOT be heard via the telephone, the internet or via “drive-thru”.

 

Reminder: the faithful can complete their Easter Duty anytime up to and including Trinity Sunday.

 

General Absolution: - No general absolution is to be given at this time; if that changes, it will be communicated/announced. If a hospital chaplain believes that his hospital Emergency Room is overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, as we have seen in Italy, he should contact the Bishop’s Office or Vicar General for further instructions and faculties.

 

Regarding Plenary Indulgence: The Apostolic Penitentiary has decreed: a Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will* to fulfill the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father's intentions), as soon as possible.

 

Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.

 

This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.

 

The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).

 

(*fulfillment of the usual conditions may not be immediately possible; therefore, the will to fulfill them suffices with the intention to fulfill the usual conditions “as soon as possible.”)

 

Easter Flowers and Decorations: - elaborate floral displays are traditional at Easter time but pastors need to be prudent about the décor of the sanctuary this year. Some flowers are certainly necessary and warranted, but large displays will not be seen except via live streaming…and the cost may be perceived as wasteful in a time when funds are tight. In addition, please do not ask a team of parishioners to gather to decorate the church as that would be in violation of the Governor’s restrictions.

 

Reminder about Gatherings – Pastors are reminded that it is not within their discretion to invite parishioners to join them for live-streamed prayers, processions, Stations of the Cross, or Masses. Given Governor Murphy’s mandate – the limitations imposed by Bishop Sullivan’s decree must be adhered to. As such only the resident clergy, one deacon and one technician may be present for any live-streamed event.