WASHINGTON – Earlier today, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued a reflection and prayer on Coronavirus (COVID-19). His statement is part of the USCCB’s ongoing engagement on the issue over the last several weeks.
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement encouraging lawmakers to consider measures providing relief and aid to those suffering from COVID-19, those affected by workplace closures and other disruptions, and prayers for those suffering from the virus and for healthcare providers.
In response to news of progression of COVID-19 outbreaks in other parts of the world, Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement with Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Health Association of the United States that addressed the Catholic response to the outbreak.
The faithful are encouraged to consult their local (arch)diocese or (arch)eparchy as to local directives on the celebration of the sacraments. The USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship has shared helpful considerations with the U.S. bishops regarding their role in regulating liturgical celebrations as they make decisions for their respective dioceses in the wake of growing public health concerns.
The considerations include: reminding parishes to use common sense hygiene practices; reminding Catholics that they are not obligated to attend Mass if they are sick; reminding bishops that they may suspend the distribution of Holy Communion by the chalice (cup), and suspend physical contact at the sign of peace; and that in more serious circumstances, they may suspend public liturgical celebrations.
The USCCB, as well as the Confraternity on Christian Doctrine (CCD) and the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), have waived permission requirements for prayers and readings in both English and Spanish to allow dioceses to livestream Masses during this time as social distancing measures are implemented.
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