BRISBANE’S Catholic churches have been closed until further notice.
The directive comes from Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge and follows the Federal Government’s suspension of all non-essential gatherings for an initial four weeks to reduce the spread of coronavirus and to give the community time to understand fully social distancing requirements.
“The ruling applies from noon today (March 23),” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“The ruling includes a suspension of all religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the one person per four square metre rule applies).
It means across the Brisbane archdiocese all parish churches should close immediately until further notice.
“Mass will not be celebrated publicly; nor will there be other celebrations such as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Stations of the Cross,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
Archbishop Coleridge said funerals should be a private event strictly limited in size and in line with Queensland Health guidelines.
The four square meter rule shall be adhered to and social distancing of 1.5 metres observed throughout.
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The Sacrament of Reconciliation should not be celebrated until further notice.
The Holy See has given permission for the celebration of the Third Rite in exceptional circumstances which are unlikely to apply in this country.
“Approval should be sought from me or Bishop Howell for any proposed celebration of the Third Rite,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“Baptism and weddings should be delayed if at all possible. If these celebrations need to proceed, attendance should again be strictly limited, with the four square metre rule and social distancing of 1.5 metres observed in line with the advice I gave last week.
“First Reconciliation, Confirmation and First Communion should be postponed until the pandemic is over.”
Archbishop Coleridge said all other parish events, both outdoor and indoor, should be cancelled.
“This would include events such as outdoor Stations of the Cross on Good Friday,” he said.
“Meetings should be conducted by phone or skype wherever possible, and where held in person, need to be conducted in line with the four square metre rule and social distancing of 1.5 metres throughout.
“In days to come, I will provide Archdiocesan directives for the celebration of Holy Week, which will be based upon the guidelines already produced by the Holy See.
“The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is submitting to the Holy See texts for a Mass in Time of Pandemic, which we hope to have approved in the near future.”
Archbishop Coleridge concluded with the Collect of that Mass:
O God, healer of all our ills,
to whom we turn in this time of distress, grant,
we pray in the power of faith,
eternal rest to the dead and comfort to those who mourn,
health to the sick and peace to the dying,
strength to medical workers,
wisdom to our leaders and a spirit of kindness to us all.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.