Episcopal priest gives ‘Last Rites’ by phone

A Connecticut man who died following a coronavirus diagnosis was given last rites by his pastor over the phone with his family listening in from quarantine.

The delivery of last rites was made possible after a nurse at Norwalk Hospital agreed to assist. The nurse gathered the Rev. Peter Walsh of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Canaan on the phone and then connected to Pike’s wife and three children to the call from quarantine.

While the article does not specify the form of the rite used, others on PrayTell have wondered if confession and absolution may also legitimately be granted via telephone or other forms of social media. Speaking for myself, it seems to me that in extremis, and baring the possibility of contact, such pastoral care and accompaniment into death is legitimate in this time of crisis. I liken it to reports of the underground Church which relate instances of imprisoned priests celebrating the Eucharist without elements of proper ‘matter’. Out of the ordinary, yes. The right thing to do, yes.

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