The Spanish Episcopal Conference has issued guidelines on the spread of the coronavirus in which it affirms that the processions of “this time” must be suppressed. Although the note does not specify whether it refers to those of Holy Week, some bishops, such as those of Valladolid, Alicante, Mérida-Badajoz, Mallorca and Ceuta, have anticipated the recommendations of the EEC and have precisely suppressed these parades that accompany the celebrations of Easter.
“This situation (the coronavirus crisis) calls us to a pastoral creativity to help each other to live Lent and Easter in a new way. As pastors we are especially called to a new dedication and creativity in the way of accompanying the People of God ”, he adds at another time of the considerations that, according to what is needed, can be modified depending on the evolution of the situation and the indications of the administrations.
Thus, he points out that in this Lenten itinerary, “devoid of some community liturgical signs and expressions of popular devotion on the street,” they are called to an even more deeply rooted path in what sustains spiritual life: “prayer, fasting and charity ”. “That the efforts made to contain the spread of the coronavirus are accompanied by the commitment of each faithful for the greater good: the care of life, the defeat of fear, the triumph of hope,” they add.
On the other hand, they specify that present and future measures oblige us to maintain distances and ask to cultivate the closeness of prayer, especially for those who suffer from the disease, their family and friends, health personnel, as well as those who work for the containment in the spread of the virus. Likewise, they consider that temples can remain open for personal prayer and invoke the gifts of wisdom and strength to the Lord to live this moment.
In any case, recalls that the bishops can dispense the faithful of the Sunday Eucharist and encourage that, as long as the emergency situation lasts, the celebration of mass in the family by the media continues. “During this time, each Bishop may dispense from the Sunday precept to those who do not participate in person in the Eucharist for these reasons,” he points out in the document in which he points out that the habitual celebrations of the Eucharist can be maintained with the sole presence of the priest and a possible small group called by the celebrant. Some Spanish bishops, such as that of Madrid or Cordoba, have already decided to make this dispensation.
In addition, the EEC rRemember that due to their vulnerability, it is advisable for people with chronic, elderly, weakened or potentially risky diseases, and those who live with them, to abstain from attending the celebration of the Eucharist. “We are all being recommended to leave the house as little as possible,” they stress. In the case of celebrations open to the people, they recommend avoiding the concentration of people. Likewise, he stresses that face-to-face catechesis should be suspended, but encouraging catechesis to continue as a family, for which the parishes must offer guidelines and resources. Talks, formative meetings, acts of devotion, concerts, conferences or similar events are also suspended in temples and diocesan offices.
With Regarding the celebration of funerals and funerals, it is recommended that only family members and those closest to them participate, postponing other celebrations as much as possible. On the other hand, it points out that, In an extraordinary way, it is recommended to receive communion in the hand. Likewise, he advises that celebrants and those who distribute communion and prepare liturgical objects should exercise extreme care in disinfecting hands. Along with this, the rite of peace should be omitted or expressed in a gesture that avoids physical contact.
Regarding the sacrament of forgiveness, he suggests that it could be celebrated in spaces or areas that ensure privacy and the recommended safety distance by the health authorities. “Priests are called to offer means to prepare the celebration at home, adequate time and spaces to offer Mercy to those who request it in this unique Lenten season,” he recalls. “The health emergency that we are suffering with the Covid-19 coronavirus, puts in the foreground the maximum concern for the severity of the situation created in all places and activities, which continues to experience exponential growth,” they point out. Together with this “reasonable concern”, these “necessary” measures are indicated, some of which are “extraordinary”, following the advice and decisions that the Government, the Ministry of Health and the autonomous communities are indicating.
In this way, as Christians, they appeal to both citizen responsibility and fraternal solidarity towards those affected and call for that solidarity in caring for the weakest and most in need of help, the elderly and lonely, but also in the face of the economic consequences and social. The bishops also stress that efforts and resignations must be made even if they are “painful.” “Especially young people are called to collaborate and bear witness to fraternity,” they add, calling on them to follow the instructions of those responsible for health in order to avoid the accelerated advance of the disease with hygienic measures and avoiding contacts that facilitate contagion.
“Apply hygienic measures such as frequent handwashing with soap and water or with hydro alcoholic solution, covering up when coughing with a disposable tissue immediately or in the elbow crease, as well as cleaning surfaces that could have been splashed with coughs or sneezes ( …). Avoid crowded places where it is not possible to maintain the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter. It is recommended to leave the house as little as possible ”, he lists. The Spanish Episcopal Conference also shows its willingness to collaborate responsibly in everything necessary to control this pandemic, attending to the indications of the health authorities, especially the specification of the state of alarm, for which it specifies that these criteria may be updated in the as events evolve and new measures emerge from public administrations.