Vatican issues guidelines for this year's celebration of Holy Week

Photo from Vatican News

The Congregation for Divine Worship in the Vatican has issued new guidelines for the celebration of the Holy Week this year.

The document noted that the coronavirus pandemic continues to present challenges in the celebration of liturgies. 

The "note" for bishops calls for “prudent decisions in order that the liturgy can be celebrated fruitfully for the People of God ... while respecting the safeguarding of health and what has been prescribed by the authorities responsible for the common good.”

While the note cited the decree issued by the Vatican last year, it noted that situations vary from country to country.

What is clear, however, is the recognition of the use of social media “in offering support and closeness to ... communities during the pandemic.”

The Congregation suggested that the media outreach continue and encouraged the faithful who are unable to attend their own church services to follow diocesan celebrations as a sign of unity.

The Congregation urged bishops to make "prudent decisions" about how their communities should celebrate Easter.

"The norms and directives contained in the liturgical books, drawn up with normal times in view, are not entirely applicable in exceptional moments of crisis such as these," said the letter, signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah and Archbishop Arthur Roche, the congregation's leaders.

Last year, the Vatican congregation told bishops they could celebrate Holy Week without the presence of the faithful in order to comply with any local health measures. 

It also suggested that bishops celebrate Holy Thursday without the washing of the feet and Good Friday without the kissing of the cross.

The new letter said those indications remain valid, and suggested that bishops could encourage people unable to physically come to services to take part through livestreams or media coverage.

Catholics and Christians around the world started the observance of Lent, the 40-day season in preparation of Easter, with the celebration of Ash Wednesday this week. - RVA News