The Archdiocese of Newark is taking seemingly unprecedented steps to help combat the spread of the Coronavirus, including urging sick parishioners to stay away from churches and Mass, by urging no physical contact with other parishioners during the Sign of Peace and in suspending the distribution of the Precious Blood of Christ at Mass.
In announcement made Monday, March 2, the archdiocese says it continues to monitor the questions that are arising about the potential spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that the diocesan bishop “must promote, regulate and be vigilant over the liturgical life of his diocese.” In light of the Coronavirus, the uncertainty of how widespread and impactful it is and/or could be and as a precaution, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, has directed the following:
- Priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are urged to practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins and/or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer solution before and after distributing Holy Communion — as is practiced in many parishes and institutions already.
- The archdiocese has always advised the faithful that sickness is a valid reason not to attend Mass or other church gatherings. As such, any individual who is sick or has flu-like symptoms is urged to stay home. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is broadcast on several television channels and the sick can make a “spiritual communion” until they return to good health.
- The sign of peace should be exchanged without physical contact.
- Distribution of the Precious Blood of Christ from the chalice to parishioners is to be suspended. Furthermore, no member of the faithful is obliged to receive the Body of Christ on the tongue (it can still be received in the hands.)
The general message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is that all should be prepared, but not panicked. The archdiocese will continue to monitor advisories from Catholic and other organizations regarding precautions on the coronavirus and share any appropriate information with the faithful and the parishes.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.