The Sunday obligation will remain suspended and churches will be asked to continue livestreaming when public Masses resume in England on July 4, the country’s metropolitan archbishops have announced.
In a joint letter on the resumption of public Mass, the archbishops also encourage priests to say more weekend Masses so that as many people as possible can attend while maintaining social distancing, and urge Catholics to consider attending Mass during the week in place of Sunday in order to ease the pressure on numbers.
In summary, the letter says:
⋅ The Sunday obligation remains suspended
⋅ Attendance at weekday Mass in place of Sunday Mass is encouraged
⋅ Priests should consider saying extra Masses at the weekend
⋅ There will be no congregational singing
⋅ Parishes should consider continuing livestreaming for those who cannot attend Mass in person
⋅ Those churches that cannot implement social distancing and sanitary requirements will remain closed
The letter does not mention the use of choirs or chanting from a cantor, however it does say that Mass “will be shorter than usual”.
It also does not mention whether Communion should be distributed in the hand only, thus avoiding a potential point of controversy and conflict with some priests and parishioners.
“The recent reopening of our churches for individual private prayer was an important milestone on our journey towards resuming communal worship,” the archbishops write.
“Our churches that have opened have put in place all the measures needed to ensure the risks of virus transmission are minimised. This includes effective hand sanitisation, social distancing, and cleaning.”
They conclude: “We have seen love in action through charitable works, and through the service of many front-line keyworkers who are members of our Church. Now we can begin to return to the source of that charity, Christ himself, present for us sacramentally, body, blood, soul and divinity, in Holy Communion.
“As we prepare to gather again to worship, let us, respectful of each other, come together in thanksgiving to God for the immense gift of the Holy Eucharist.”