The following MEMORANDUM was received March 11 from Archbishop Miller:
This afternoon, British Columbia Premier John Horgan, Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry held a teleconference with faith community leaders from across the Province to discuss preventative measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. They emphasized that the situation is continuously evolving, and new recommendations will be made as circumstances warrant. Daily briefings on the coronavirus situation are posted each afternoon on http://www.bccdc.ca/.
Arising from today’s consultation, the following temporary measures are to be put in place immediately in all parishes of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
Out of consideration for the well-being of others in the community, the elderly, anyone with an underlying health condition and those who feel even remotely unwell are excused from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass. If they have access to television or the internet, those who remain at home may watch Mass. Attached to this memo is also a Prayer for Spiritual Communion which may also be used in these circumstances. In order to reduce social isolation, parishes are encouraged to find ways to mobilize people to make phone calls to those who must remain at home, and to provide services such as delivering food and necessary items. Being in regular contact with the parish community will alleviate loneliness for the homebound.
Reception of Holy Communion
As a result of direct consultation with the Public Health Officer, the faithful are strongly recommended to receive Holy Communion only in the hand.
Those distributing Holy Communion are encouraged to avoid direct skin-to-skin contact when placing the Host into the hands of the faithful. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should not receive the Precious Blood before the general distribution of Holy Communion. Hand sanitizers should be used, or washing carefully with soap and water practiced, before and after the distribution of Holy Communion. Furthermore, no one should feel obligated to serve as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion if they would rather not at this time.
Respecting the right of the faithful to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, an announcement is to be made, beginning on the weekend of March 14/15 and for all subsequent Masses during this period, that those who wish to receive Communion on the tongue should come forward after all other communicants have received. Alternatively, one priest, deacon or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion can be designated
specifically to distribute Communion only on the tongue.
Kiss of Peace
For all Masses, it is recommended that celebrants/deacons omit the Kiss of Peace from the liturgical rite, as is permitted by the Roman Missal.
For all parish activities, the following recommendations should be followed:
- Hand sanitizer or hand washing stations should be available to all at the entrance of the church, parish hall and other parish facilities;
- Meeting rooms should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after each activity;
- The Public Health Officer suggests that people maintain a two-metre space (approximately two arms’ length) between one another, to reduce any potential transmission of the coronavirus.
These steps are taken solely for the safety of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. Please join me in praying for all those who have become sick from the coronavirus, those attending to the sick and those working to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. It is my hope that these measures, and any that follow in the coming days, will only be needed for a short time.