DECREE In time of Covid-19 (II)
Considering the rapidly evolving situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and taking into account observations which have come from Episcopal Conferences, this Congregation now offers an update to the general indications and suggestions already given to bishops in the preceding decree of 19 March 2020.
Given that the date of Easter cannot be transferred, in the countries which have been struck by the disease and where restrictions around the assembly and movement of people have been imposed, Bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of the people and in a suitable place, avoiding concelebration and omitting the sign of peace.
The faithful should be informed of the beginning times of the celebrations so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes. Means of live (not recorded) telematic broadcasts can be of help. In any event it remains important to dedicate an adequate time to prayer, giving importance above all to the Liturgia Horarum [“Liturgy of the Hours” – ed.]
The Episcopal Conferences and individual dioceses will see to it that resources are provided to support family and personal prayer.
1 – Palm Sunday. The Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem is to be celebrated within sacred buildings; in cathedral churches the second form given in the Roman Missal is to be adopted; in parish churches and in other places the third form is to be used.
2 – The Chrism Mass. Evaluating the concrete situation in different countries, the Episcopal Conferences will be able to give indications about a possible transfer to another date.
3 – Holy Thursday. The washing of feet, which is already optional, is to be omitted. At the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper the procession is also omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle. On this day the faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, is exceptionally granted to all priests.
4 – Good Friday. In the Universal Prayer, bishops will arrange to have a special intention prepared for those who find themselves in distress, the sick, the dead, (cf. Missale Romanum). The adoration of the Cross by kissing it shall be limited solely to the celebrant.
5 – The Easter Vigil: Is to be celebrated only in cathedral and parish churches. For the “Baptismal Liturgy” only the “Renewal of Baptismal Promises” is maintained (cf. Missale Romanum).
Seminaries, houses of clergy, monasteries and religious communities shall follow the indications of this decree.
Expressions of popular piety and processions which enrich the days of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum can be transferred to other suitable days in the year, for example 14 and 15 September, according to the judgment of the Diocesan Bishop.
De mandato Summi Pontificis pro hoc tantum anno 2020
[By mandate of the Supreme Pontiff for this year only, 2020]
From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,
25 March 2020, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.
Robert Card. Sarah
✠ Arthur Roche