Liturgical services in Holy Week possible in principle under currently valid regulations

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Processions allowed under guarantee of two-meter distance and FFP2 mask obligation – No foot washing on Holy Thursday –

Will it be possible to celebrate the traditional services of Holy Week this year? The Austrian bishops have now given a clear and positive answer to this question, which has been troubling many believers after the cancellation of public services last year: “The celebrations of Holy Week and Easter are possible under the conditions of the currently valid framework regulations of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference for the celebration of public services, subject to the clarifications listed below.”

The regulations for the celebration of services during Holy Week and Easter essentially implement the guidelines of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of February 17. Specifically, this means that church services are possible in compliance with the FFP2 mask requirement and the observance of the minimum distance of two meters for people who do not live in a household.

This also applies to the processions on Palm Sunday as well as at Easter, the bishops state: “A procession is only possible if it is ensured that a distance of at least 2 meters from other persons not living in the same household is maintained at all times. The FFP2 mask is mandatory throughout the service.” If a procession is not possible, he said, the commemoration of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem can be combined with the procession inside the church. It is also possible to organize the Palm Sunday service entirely outdoors.

The tradition of washing the feet on Maundy Thursday must be dropped for corona reasons, the document continues. Likewise, at the end of the service of the Last Supper, any form of general procession must be omitted. “What is possible, however, is the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament in a procession of liturgical ministries to the place where it is kept.”

This year, they said, the veneration of the cross customary on Good Friday must be limited to bowing or genuflecting – touching the cross, as is customary in many places, is not permitted. In addition, the bishops recommend to hold a separate, additional intercession on the occasion of the pandemic. This had already been published and recommended last year and provides for the prayer for all those people who are seriously ill with Corona as well as for all those who are working for these people and are committed to overcoming the pandemic in the most diverse areas of life.

Further information on the celebrations of Confirmation and First Communion could be given “only after new evaluation after Easter,” the bishops pointed out in conclusion.

Sources: Kathpress and bischofskonferenz.at

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