Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you are certainly aware, the global community is currently on heightened alert due to the outbreak of a coronavirus known as COVID-19. Despite the seriousness of the situation, prudence, patience, and the avoidance of panic are advised.
The Church has and continues to respect medical science. Thus, the Church recommends that all the faithful adhere to the official directives of both the World Health Organization and the pertinent pronouncements and legal regulations issued by the civil authorities of Australia and the State Health authorities.
Despite the seriousness of the situation, prudence, patience, and the avoidance of panic are advised.
For the well being of our priests and laity I offer the following hygienic guidelines that can serve to minimize the risk of contracting a respiratory viral or bacterial disease while attending church services. Please publish these guidelines in your parish bulletin and announce them from the pulpit. These guidelines remain in effect until the situation with the coronavirus subsides or other regulations are issued.
This advice should be considered alongside local and national health guidance from the Commonwealth Department of Health (https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alert/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
- If you feel sick, do not come to church. You are not morally obliged to attend the liturgy on Sundays or holy days of obligation if you are ill.
- Avoid handshakes and hugs with your fellow parishioners in church.
- Refrain from kissing icons or hand crosses.
- If you need to sneeze or cough in church, use a handkerchief or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose.
- Use of hand sanitizer on entry to the church is strongly recommended.
- Holy water should be temporarily removed from stoups at the doors of churches to reduce the possibility of transmission of the virus.
- When receiving Holy Communion, open your mouth as widely as possible and do not touch the spoon with your lips or tongue.
- All Ministers of Holy Communion should take particular care to wash their hands before and after distributing. Appropriate means should be made available
Instructions to clergy.
- When visiting Hospitals or Aged Care Homes, clergy must abide by the regulations that are in place at each institution even if it makes the administration of the sacraments difficult.
- Clergy are not to celebrate Divine Services when they are sick.
- Oil for Holy Unction is to be blessed in a small quantity and then disposed of by burning or burying after use. The use of cotton filled “oil stocks” is forbidden.
- Clergy are to look after their health at all times. They are not to put themselves and others at risk.
We must during times like the present, never doubt in the power of our faith. We have confidence that just as the previous viruses and other threats to mankind have been defeated, we will witness the same today. Let us be exemplary examples of faith and action to one another with fervent prayer and charity, not only throughout the duration of the present crisis, but throughout our lives.
Yours Sincerely in Christ
+ Peter Stasiuk CSsR
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