Coronavirus: Priests are given guidance to deal with traditional ceremonies

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Church Steeple and Cross

They have also been given guidance on Baptisms and Confirmation ceremonies.

The information and advice came from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in light of he COVID-19 pandemic.

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Priests will no longer anoint the foreheads of people who are dying with their thumb. Instead, holy oil will be administered with a cotton bud or glove which will then be disposed of appropriately.

The statement also says that priests will not touch a baby on the forehead when they are being baptised.

There also will be a ban on the sign of peace and on the passing around of collection baskets in churches

Another warning was issued that many confirmation ceremonies may have to be postponed because of the spread of the virus.

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There is also a plea that people with underlying health conditions should not attend confirmation ceremonies.

Communion will only be received into the hand and not on the tongue. Holy water fonts will remain empty at this time.

Mass-goers have been asked to keep a safe distance from one another. Elderly people with underlying medical conditions have been advised to stay away from funerals. Sympathisers have been told not to shake hands with the bereaved.

Hand sanitisers will be at the entrances to all churches and priests will sanitise their hands before and after distributing communion.

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Masses will continue as normal. However, those with underlying conditions are “dispensed from their Sunday obligation to attend”.

Here is the full statement from the Spring 2020 General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

“It said: “Bishops joined in prayerful solidarity with the Holy Father Pope Francis who, on Sunday, assured “those suffering from the current coronavirus epidemic and to all those who are caring for them” of his prayers. Whilst the threat to public health continues to evolve, Irish bishops have provided the following guidance to help the faithful sustain Church life during this trying time for all of us Saint Patrick’s Day, Tuesday 17 March 2020

Bishops prayed through the intercession of our national patron, Saint Patrick, for the faith and well-being of Irish people everywhere. In particular bishops prayed for those who are selflessly dedicated to the frontline services of medicine and public health, in the care of our vulnerable, isolated, and ill sisters and brothers.

Lent and preparation for Holy Week and Easter

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Bishops reflected on the call to renewal in our Christian life which is a central part of our preparation for Easter. Pope Francis reminds us that, as we journey through the season of Lent, “God never tires of forgiving us” (Evangelii Gaudium The Joy of the Gospel). Bishops ask of the faithful to offer up their fasting, prayer, reading of Scripture and works of mercy during Lent for the grace of healing and renewal.

Bishops encourage the faithful to read Pope Francis’ message for Lent 2020 on the theme “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). Parishioners are also invited to follow this year’s #LivingLent digital media initiative which, each day, involves a short suggestion shared on Twitter @catholicbishops and on Instagram on prayer, fasting and charity in response to the Pope’s invitation not to let Lent pass in vain.