The Catholic Church develops health-protection protocol: Following the government’s declaration of a public-health emergency last March, the bishops of Quebec decided to suspend [public] liturgical celebrations and to close places of worship in a spirit of pastoral charity and out of deep concern for the most vulnerable among us.
Original in French - In-house translation
Given that the government will eventually grant permission to hold indoor public gatherings, Catholics must prepare now to ensure that each parish church that opens its doors and resumes liturgical activities will do so in the safest possible manner.
This spirit of pastoral charity must also guide the way we gradually reintroduce our liturgical activities. We do not want, under any circumstances, to expose anyone to the Covid-19 virus.
Even if zero-risk does not exist, we believe that we can make fundamental changes in the way we function by introducing health-protection measures to create a safe environment for everyone. We are doing so out of love for our brothers and sisters.
A health-protection protocol for liturgical celebrations is currently being sent to all dioceses to serve as a model, which can be adapted as needed. It will help to ensure that all aspects related to the safe resumption of liturgical celebrations within a church are taken into account.
This protocol will evolve in tandem with the health guidelines developed by the public-health authorities. While the guidelines are very restrictive at this stage, we expect these to ease incrementally over time.
Bishops are keenly aware that this process, in itself, will be very demanding. It may not be possible for all parish churches to reopen at the same time, given that some might not be able to ensure adequate health protection for their parishioners and ministers. The reopening of these churches will, therefore, take place at a later date.
On behalf of my fellow Quebec bishops, I wish to express in advance our heartfelt gratitude to all those serving on pastoral teams, as members of parish Fabriques, those responsible for church maintenance, and the many people involved on a volunteer basis in the liturgical life of their parishes, for the extra effort that will be required in the coming weeks.
As a result of these efforts, it will be possible for us, once again, to welcome our brothers and sisters with God’s immense tenderness to celebrate the Eucharist and other sacraments.
+ Christian Rodembourg
Bishop of Saint-Hyacinthe
President, Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops