The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Cardinal Robert Sarah, asks in a letter to the bishops prudent actions before the authorities of each country so that going to mass “is not considered a meeting or is comparable, and not even subordinate, to forms of recreational gathering.”
In the letter addressed to the presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world and approved by Pope Francis, Sarah affirms that a mass followed through the media does not amount to personal participation in the Church. And he insists on the need “to return to normality in Christian life, wherever the health emergency caused by the pandemic allows it.”
The letter that addresses the theme of the celebration of the liturgy during and after the pandemic caused by Covid-19 and entitled “Let’s return with joy to the Eucharist!”, Points out that the pandemic has also caused disruption in the life of the Christian community, “including the liturgical dimension.”
He affirms that due to the emergency, the bishops “were ready to make difficult and painful decisions, until the prolonged suspension of the participation of the faithful in the celebration of the Eucharist.”
But he notes that “as soon as circumstances allow, it is necessary and urgent to return to the normality of the Christian life, whose home is the church building and the celebration of the liturgy, especially the Eucharist. “
The cardinal adds that due attention to hygiene and safety standards “cannot lead to the sterilization of gestures and rituals.”
Furthermore, “it relies on the prudent but firm action of the bishops so that the participation of the faithful in the celebration of the Eucharist is not classified by public authorities as a gathering, and is not considered comparable, or even subordinate , to forms of recreational aggregation “.
Restrictions in various countries
In some countries like Italy, the capacity of the churches is still limited due to the need to keep the distance of one meter, so it is necessary to leave spaces in the benches.
In Spain Face-to-face masses were allowed during the de-escalation and the same sanitary standards as in the rest of the meeting places had to be followed, such as the mandatory use of a mask, respect for the safety distance or the use of gel at the entrance of the church.
Likewise, with the latest restrictions imposed in different autonomous communities, such as Madrid, they have had to further reduce capacity. Specifically, from Monday, September 7, in closed spaces 60% of the capacity cannot be exceeded (previously it was 75%). This measure includes, in addition to masses, celebrations such as baptisms, communions, weddings or funerals.