FALL RIVER — Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., issued this morning directives to be followed in the Fall River Diocese in response to the Coronavirus crisis.
Bishop da Cunha states that many have asked what the Church is doing to prevent spread of the virus.
“As Bishop of the Diocese of Fall River, it is my responsibility to “promote, regulate, and be vigilant over the liturgical life of his diocese” (General Roman Missal). The coronavirus is now part of our public life–our world, our country and our state. Even though, as of this date, there are no known cases of anyone infected by this virus in the territory of our Diocese, together we must call on faith and reason to be vigilant and proactive to prevent the spread of this virus.”
According to Bishop Eda Cunha, he has directed priests, deacons, lay ministers and faithful to observe the following:
As of today, March 13, 2020, the public celebration of daily and Sunday Masses will continue.
Those at particular risk by reason of age or underlying health conditions, or anyone who may be feeling ill, are excused from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. We encourage them to watch Mass on TV or via live streaming on the internet and to pray at home. Please visit www.fallriverdiocese.com for listings;
The Church is temporarily suspending distribution of Communion of the Precious Blood of Christ with the chalice. Communion will be given only under the form of bread (Host) – except for those with Celiac disease who are already receiving Communion from a separate chalice;
Communion is to be given only on the hand and not on the tongue;
The Sign of Peace during the Mass is to be replaced by a moment of quiet prayer or by wishing peace without physical contact;
Holy Water Fonts must be emptied, cleaned and remain empty;
Non-essential gatherings in parishes such as dinners, lunches, and other social events should be postponed or canceled;
Pastors should encourage parishioners to practice social distancing. The CDC recommendation is to keep a 6 to 10-foot distance between people.
When gathering for liturgies and devotions, pastors and parishioners are urged to follow carefully the recommendations which were previously sent to all parishes;
Bishop da Cunha also strongly recommends that each parish and school be diligent about keeping ALL areas sanitized and to reference the “Catholic Mutual …CARES” document for additional guidance.
UPDATE: Out of concern for the avoidance of large gatherings and for the protection and well-being of parishioners, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., has issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass this weekend, March 14-15, for all Catholics of the Fall River Diocese.
Members of the faithful who are considered at greater risk for the coronavirus because of age or underlying health conditions are especially encouraged to take advantage of this dispensation. As announced in previous communications, anyone who is feeling ill or experiencing symptoms of illness is urged to stay home as well.
This dispensation is in effect for this weekend. Bishop da Cunha and his advisors will meet on Monday to assess the situation to determine the appropriate steps to be taken at that time with regard to the obligation to attend Sunday Mass going forward.
Those who are not attending a parish Mass this weekend are encouraged to watch Mass on television or via live streaming on the Internet and to pray at home.