Archbishop Cushley has issued his latest update to priests and deacons on Covid-19 procedures. He shares the message with you here, so everyone is aware of the details they have been given. In this way we can all work together to keep safe.
Please pray for your parish priest and our deacons, show them support and encouragement as they continue to minister to us in a difficult situation.
Closure of churches
"As you will know, the Prime Minister yesterday instructed all people to stay at home (except in exceptional circumstances) and to avoid all gatherings of more than two people. As a result of this announcement, and following instructions from the Scottish Government, the Bishops’ Conference reluctantly mandated the closure of all our churches across the country.
"The Bishops encourage all priests to continue to celebrate daily Mass privately, and to keep in touch with their parishioners through the means of modern technology. This document (from Deacon Eddie White) helps explain how it is possible to harness the internet to transmit Mass to your people and to stay in touch with them in prayer and spiritual solidarity. Please let your parishioners know that you will be celebrating Mass for them, even if they cannot be present. I also attach some thinking you may wish to reflect upon and share with them on eucharistic fasting and spiritual communion
"Unfortunately, social distancing means that we ought not to distribute the Sacraments except at an inconvenient distance, which means that Holy Communion may now be given to people only in danger of death."
Visiting the Sick and Elderly, and taking them Holy Communion
"Due to the new regulations announced yesterday, neither you nor your Eucharistic Ministers may now visit the Sick. The only call that you may respond to is to someone in danger of death."
Penance & Reconciliation
"If you are approached for the Sacrament of Penance, therefore, you must take into account all the Government’s hygiene precautions and maintain a significant distance between yourself and the penitent."
Baptisms, Marriages & Funerals
"Baptisms and Marriages have been suspended by the State. Funerals now consist solely in a short ceremony either at the graveside or the crematorium, attended by only the immediate family members: how many people will depend on the State, and perhaps the Funeral Directors. No matter how many people come, social distancing must be observed. Please choose Rites from the books that will make the moment significant but brief. Offer also to celebrate a Requiem Mass on the day itself for the deceased, although you must do so until further notice without the presence of the people."
The Anointing of the Sick & Viaticum
"Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum should only be carried out in danger of death. If you do anoint someone, let me suggest that you follow the advice from NHS Lothian. If you are over 70, or have underlying conditions, do not expose yourself to risk. Those who do anoint those in danger of death must observe all the Government’s hygiene precautions strictly. Anointing may be applied (eg on the back of the hands) using a piece of cotton wool, to be used once and then disposed of properly. In hospital you will be required to put on a disposable gown, mask, and gloves."
"As I did last week, I again appeal to all of you, both to make yourself aware of, and carefully follow, all public health advice about how to limit the spread of this virus. And again, I remind all those of you who are over 70, or who have underlying health conditions, that you must minimise your contact with others. If you test positive for the virus or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, follow the present Government guidelines on self-isolation and please let the Dean, or me, know of your health status and if you need any help."
Keep the Sabbath Holy
"If you are communicating with your people online, please also remind them that, although we cannot go to Mass on Sunday at the moment, we are nevertheless obliged, as Christians, to keep the Sabbath holy. Please, therefore, encourage them to pray at home together and to assist at Mass online if they can. Sunday Mass is now available in English, Polish and Syro-Malabar, each Sunday, from various places in the diocese. I am very grateful to all those of you who have successfully reached out to your people in this way."
Christian Initiation at Easter
"The situation regarding Holy Week has now changed dramatically. In line with the recent decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I have reluctantly decided to postpone this year’s Chrism Mass indefinitely. Unhappily, the popular Polish blessing service on Holy Saturday must also be suspended. I invite our Polish priests to be imaginative about holding a blessing service online for their people. Thank you for your understanding. Use the Emergency Rites to consecrate Oil of the Sick as required: a helpful version of the Rites in cases of danger of death is also in that link."
Day of Prayer, 25 and 27 March 2020
"Please join the Holy Father as he prays with all Christians throughout the world at 11:00am on Wedesday, and for his special Urbi et Orbi blessing on Friday at 5:00pm."
I would also ask you to encourage everyone to pray the Memorare once a day to Our Lady, Health of the Sick.
Please keep me in your prayers at this time and be sure of my prayers for each one of you.
A happy Feast of the Annunciation to you.
Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh
List of links:
Eucharistic fasting click here
Spiritual Communion click here
Energency rites click here
Recent Decree click here
Streaming on YouTube click here
Beginners' guide to streaming (from Church of England) click here