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Updates on Worship in the Time of Public Health Concern

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Office for Divine Worship and Sacraments

As the pandemic continues, the wearing of masks especially while indoors has become more important. Recently, Governor DeWine issued an order for some of our 19 counties in the archdiocese requiring the wearing of masks while indoors until further notice. This applies to our parish churches and all people except in special circumstances.

While there is a narrow exemption only for the priest celebrant, Archbishop Schnurr is requiring priest celebrants to wear a mask while in procession at the beginning and end of Mass, and while ministering Holy Communion. Priests are also encouraged to wear a mask, even while in the sanctuary, especially when a safe social distance from others cannot be maintained.

Archbishop Schnurr has strongly discouraged the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue, since Canon Law does not permit the ordinary to restrict the practice further. We have received many inquiries from the faithful concerned about this practice still taking place in their parishes.

Here are some strategies you could consider to allow everyone to receive Holy Communion in the manner they choose:

• Invite those who wish to receive on the tongue to receive Holy Communion only from a specific priest, or deacon, or a given EMHC who is especially adept at ministry in this manner, reducing any cross-contamination

• Invite those who wish to receive on the tongue to sit in a designated section so that all are aware and can choose to sit elsewhere

• Invite those who wish to receive on the tongue to be last in any given Communion line

Whether or not one manner of reception is more prone to spreading the virus or not is a matter of science, and somewhat unsettled. However, simple strategies like those above may help ease the fears of the faithful, who – seeing others receive on the tongue – are then concerned about receiving themselves out of fear from the contamination that may have taken place with finger to tongue contact. Such simple strategies may help lead the faithful back to sacramental Communion.

You can find more information about these topics, the complete guidance for worship and sacraments during this time of public health concern, and guidance on other special topics here

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