Statement on Behalf of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis Regarding the Liturgical Implications of the Transmission of Pathogens at Mass and Other Liturgical Celebrations

Update: See newer statement issued on March 13

Some questions have been raised regarding the transmission of disease-producing agents within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy at this time.  First of all, let us pray for those affected by sickness and for our protection from infection and illness.  With the flu season now taking place in the United States and with the advisories regarding the Coronavirus/COVID-19 throughout the world, the following considerations may be utilized at the discretion of the pastor, administrator, or parish life coordinator.

Precautionary measures that always apply:

  • urging priests, deacons, altar servers, sacristans and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins or even using an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before handling the vessels and the bread and wine for set up for Mass and before and after the distribution of Holy Communion;
  • ensuring all vessels used at Mass, once purified, are thoroughly washed with soap and hot water after each use; and
  • assuring the faithful that if they are sick or are experiencing symptoms of sickness, they are not obliged to attend Mass, and even that out of charity they ought not to attend.

Precautionary measures that could be applied:

  • suspending the exchange of the sign of peace (or instructing that it be exchanged without physical contact – examples could include a bow of the head or a wave to others);
  • suspending the holding of hands during the Lord’s prayer;
  • refraining from distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful via the chalice (please consider options for any parishioners with celiac disease or sensitivity);
    • offering the catechetical reminder that Christ is wholly and permanently present under both of the consecrated species, both the bread and/or the wine;
  • discontinuing the practice of touching a non-communicant for a blessing; and
  • refraining from using Holy Water fonts.

The following petition may be offered at Masses in coming days and weeks:

For those who are suffering in the current outbreak of the flu and the Coronavirus; that they might be healed, and for the happy repose of all who have died from these sicknesses in recent weeks; let us pray to the Lord.

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