by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
The Church in Italy has a special status and independence, granted to it in the Lateran Pact and subsequent accords. Thus, there was no legal basis for the Bishops’s Conference to say anything about the Mass and Sacraments. They chose, however, to seemingly order that they not be celebrated so as to comply with the governmental decrees aimed at limiting the spread of the Corona virus.
However, what the decrees do permit are the opening of restaurants and bars from 6 AM to 6 PM.
I do not know how those who live in Rome without a kitchen can eat dinner if the restaurants are closed at 6 PM! But I have seen Bars and eateries of smaller sizes still open after 6 PM.
However, a priest I think has sound legal basis to work around the government restrictions without violating them.
And he can do it this way:
Open the Church and organize your ministry as a Restaurant or Bar. That is, offer Communion to Catholics as they come in, upon request, without holding any ceremony.
Print out several hundred flyers which instruct the faithful as to which prayers they should say before receiving, where to go to receive and how to receive in a sanitary fashion.
Have a priest stationed in a side altar for 12 hours. He can have a collection basket too, if he wants. He should be properly vested and be at an altar with a Tabernacle and be provided with several ciboria with sufficient Hosts.
Since no amount of the faithful will come at any one time, and since there will be no service, I think there will be no violation of the Decrees: which are aimed solely at groupings of several individuals, not the distribution of things which are eatable.
Require that all receive kneeling and in the mouth, with heads titled back. Do not give the Sacrament until the communicant puts himself in the proper position. Give instructions. Practice with unconsecrated hosts, if need be.
This method can be used for the Sacraments of Penance, Baptism and Marriage. Use simplified rituals. And a lot of common sense.
If a priest needs permission, ask your Bishop. In cases of such grave necessity, I think a priest does not need permission, however, seeing that the Bishop’s conference has totally abandoned its pastoral duty, each priest now is authorized to act as best he sees fit.
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