COVID-19 pandemic prompts new NZ Mass guidelines

Episcopal Ordination 2020-642

After receiving advice from the Ministry of Health, the NZ Catholic bishops have issued new guidelines to dioceses and parishes asking them to stop distributing communion from the chalice, among others.

The bishops, under the advice of National Liturgy Acting Director Fr John O’ Connor, released an urgent COVID-19 coronavirus update on March 15.

“The National Liturgy Office and NZ Catholic Bishops have received important new advice today from the Ministry of Health,” Fr O’Connor said in behalf of the bishops.

“This advice specifically says we should desist with ‘the sharing of communion cups and shared holy water, and hand shaking’.”

Based on the Health Ministry’s advice, Catholics are being asked to:

  • At the Sign of Peace, people should avoid shaking hands or other contact with one another, and instead smile, nod or bow to one another.
  • Holy Communion is not to be distributed from the chalice.
  • Communion is only to be distributed in the hand, not on the tongue.
  • Holy water is to be removed from stoups and containers at the church door.
  • Priests should not touch children’s heads when blessing them and then continue to distribute Communion.

He clarified that there is still no restriction on public gatherings, including Mass.

“We are concerned there is a significant degree of fear among some parishioners, and it is essential that the Church is a safe place for people when they gather for Mass.  We therefore ask each diocese, parish and Catholic community to respond with appropriate sensitivity to the fears that exists,” Fr O’ Connor said.

The bishops emphasised with all parishioners the importance of good practices of hygiene, including regular washing of hands, covering coughs and sneezes with elbows not hands, staying at home if sick, and trying to keep a metre away from people who are unwell.

NZ Catholic Staff

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Sarah says

    Repeated jurisprudence from the Holy See protects the right of communicants to receive on the tongue and allows for the exception of communicants to receive in the hand where this is allowed (I.e dioceses that allow for communion to be received in the hand). How one chooses to receive Holy Communion is at the discretion of the communicant. No priest or bishop can require or force a communicant to receive holy communion in the hand.

  2. Brendan Davies says

    No surprise that our bishops adopt a purely naturalistic approach and have come out with this. It reads like a goody-too-shoes NGO placating their civil overlords. As for banning communion on the tongue… that’s simply not within their competency as the Rome has judged time and again. I note they don’t offer any supernatural/spiritual advice at this time – truly sad.

  3. ADRIAN MCNAMARA says

    1. HOW LONG IS HYGIENE CRISIS EXPECTED BY CATHOLIC LEADERS TO LAST IN NEW ZEALAND
    2. WHEN IF EVER IS COMMUNION ON THE TGNGUE TO BE ALLOWED
    3 DO YOU DENY THAT CANON LAW SAYS COMMUNION ON THE TONGUE IS A LAY PERSON’S UNCONDITIONAL RIGHT

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