WelCom April 2022
Cardinal John Dew has written to parishes providing guidelines for the celebration of Easter liturgies in the current Covid-19 environment.
The Cardinal welcomed the relaxation of the Red setting regulations which he says are a ‘blessing which comes in time for Easter’. The changes ‘give us the opportunity for people to come together in parishes without the divisions which resulted from the vaccine passes.’
From 11.59pm on April 4, vaccine passes will be no longer be required to attend Mass and the limits on numbers attending Masses will be increased from 100 to 200.
However, there are a number of measures which parishes are to implement to safeguard against the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Cardinal John said he does not believe it is safe yet to celebrate the Chrism Mass. ‘Gathering priests and representatives from the parishes of the diocese could provide an unfortunate opportunity for the spread of the virus in the midst of Holy Week and before the Triduum Celebrations.’
He said the Chrism Mass will be held when the Covid Protection Framework moves to an Orange setting.
Other Easter ceremonies are be adapted so that social distancing is maintained. There is to be no procession on Palm Sunday or washing of the feet on Holy Thursday. There will be individual venerations of the Cross on Good Friday and there will be no lighting of the Easter fire outside the Church at the Easter Vigil.
In his letter, Cardinal John said, ‘the Easter fire would mean people processing into the church and being close together. Processions do not allow for the social distancing requirements which keep us safe and which help people to feel safe.’
Other rules which have been in place will continue – communion in the hand and under one kind only, no holy water in the fonts, the Sign of Peace without contact and no singing. Masks are still to be worn by people at Mass but they could be dispensed with in the sanctuary by the presider and readers as long as they are two metres away from the congregation.
The Cardinal expressed his gratitude ‘for all you are doing in these strange and challenging times. Your generosity and kindness to people in the parishes is wonderful and appreciated by so many.’