Pastoral Directive on Preventing the Spread of Infectious Disease
In response to the cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown etiology in Macau (“Severe Respiratory Disease associated with a Novel Infectious Agent”), the government's health bureau has issued recommendations for the prevention of the spread of the infectious disease. The Diocese is supplying the following pastoral directive. All those in charge of parishes, communities, facilities, and schools, etc, are urged to carefully carry out preventive measures to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
1. Public Hygiene in Churches and Church Owned Venues
1.1 Ensure proper ventilation in churches, meeting halls, and other venues for gathering.
1.2 Provide hand sanitiser dispensers at entrances to churches and other venues.
1.3 Thorough cleaning of microphones, liturgical vessels, communion plates, collection baskets/bags, books, hymnals, door handles, floor, kneelers, confessionals, screens, sacristy areas, and washrooms, etc.
2. Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
2.1 Anyone feeling respiratory discomfort should wear masks in church and in gatherings; faithful who manifest more serious symptoms (e.g., fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and other respiratory distress) are not required to attend Holy Mass (or any kind of church activities) during their illness and recovery. Faithful who are unable to fulfill Sunday and Holy Day obligation are encouraged to perform other acts of piety such as lectio divina, spiritual communion, and rosary at home.
2.2 Holy water fonts at the entrance to churches will be emptied; the faithful do not need to bless themselves with holy water for now.
2.3 A respectful bow at each other during the exchange of the sign of peace during Mass will suffice.
2.4 Holy Communion will be distributed to the faithful during Mass in the form of bread only; the distribution of the Precious Blood will be suspended for now.
2.5 Faithful experiencing respiratory discomfort are advised not to receive Holy Communion on the tongue but in the hand.
2.6 At Masses where the collection (money) is taken, the collection should take place after the distribution of Holy Communion.
3. Pastoral Care for the Sick and the Elderly
3.1 Ministers engaged in the pastoral care for the sick and the elderly must follow the instructions of the hospitals and those of the care facilities.
3.2 Parish priests should instruct pastoral staff and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to take adequate preventive measures before attending to home-bound elderly or patients when giving them Holy Communion or administering the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.
3.3 The pyx or the holy oil containers must be cleaned immediately after administering the Sacraments.
During this period of disease prevention, parishes are encouraged to publicly recite the following prayer of St. Roque after Masses:
O Almighty God and Father of the poor, since You did strengthen St. Roque by Your divine grace to help the sick with admirable way of curing them, grant us your mercy through the merits of St. Roque, that we may be spared from all sickness and contagion through his intercession, and that we may receive the grace to be delivered from the greatest evil, which is mortal sin; so that after the trials of this life we may be worthy to be admitted into your eternal glory in heaven through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Parishes may make copies of this prayer for the use of the faithful.
5. Attention to Latest Notices
All pastoral ministers, heads of units, and the faithful should raise their awareness of personal and public hygiene and pay close attention to the latest health notices; masks should be properly worn and hands frequently washed. Planning and arrangements for individual and community activities should be duly adapted to accommodate the exigencies of the current situation. Should the spread of the infection become aggravated, further notices will be issued.
6. The clergy will receive further detailed instructions related to the above.
Given at the Chancery Office, 23 January 2020.
Rev. Cyril Jerome LAW, Jr.