When we took up the work of embracing the call of the new evangelization to become a missionary archdiocese, we looked at some key good habits which would be essential to the success of our work. Among those good habits highlighted in Unleash the Gospel were “a spirit of cooperation” and “a spirit of innovation.” While it was not in my mind at that time how these virtues would need to be lived out during a pandemic, I am exceedingly proud of the way our priests, parish staffs, and parishioners have exhibited and exemplified these good habits over the past 14 challenging months.
As we transition away from a heightened state of emergency around the COVID-19 pandemic and take steps toward normality, I ask you to remember these good habits and for each of us to renew our commitment to living them out together. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we must continue to live with a “spirit of cooperation” to adapt to the circumstances we face and, importantly, to care for and protect those who are most vulnerable. We will need a “spirit of innovation” to aid us in determining which changes to keep in place and which ones can and should be relaxed.
While Archdiocesan-wide COVID liturgical protocols are relaxed – in alignment with guidance from national and state public health officials – we realize there are diverse situations and a variety of needs across the six counties of southeast Michigan. Therefore, I have asked pastors to determine how best to adjust parish protocols for the particular needs of their parishes. Each of us is called to keep in mind our need to care for the common good – including a deliberate consideration to receive the COVID vaccine for the good of oneself and one’s neighbor. This care for the common good entails a particular care and love for those who are most vulnerable among us, in this situation the elderly and the immunocompromised.
Additionally, these considerations are meant to permit and encourage the reverent offering of and active participation in the Sacred Liturgy. The updated COVID liturgical protocols are as follows:
New COVID Liturgical Protocols
Those who are fully vaccinated may wear a face-covering and social distance but are no longer required to do so in churches.
Those who have not been fully vaccinated are to continue wearing face-coverings and to practice social distancing to protect themselves and others in churches. Because a parish community – and our society – requires mutual trust and a commitment to the common good, each individual is asked to make the best decisions for himself as well as for others. Parishes do not have the responsibility to verify who is and who is not vaccinated.
Each parish is to provide a portion of the church – with a size to be determined by the pastor – where social distancing and face-coverings are consistently maintained. This section is for anyone, vaccinated or unvaccinated.
All unvaccinated Catholics are encouraged to consult with their doctor about the vaccines. Resources to assist Catholics in understanding the moral use of COVID vaccines can be found at aod.org/vaccines.
The Sign of Peace may resume with the normal wording, “Offerte vobis pacem / Let us offer each other the sign of peace,” allowing parishioners and families to make their own determinations about how widely to share some sign of peace.
COVID Liturgical Protocols which remain in place
Parishes should continue to provide signage about current COVID protocols.
Parishes should keep doors open to ventilate churches as they are able.
Parishes are encouraged to continue the COVID arrangement of vessels for bread/wine on the altar.
Clergy and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should continue to wear masks while distributing Holy Communion.
Parishes are encouraged to maintain sanitization stations at the locations of the distribution of Holy Communion.
Parishes are to continue to refrain from the distribution of the Chalice to the faithful (except for a Bride and Groom on their wedding day).
These revised liturgical protocols should be a sign that we have made great progress from March 2020. But we still need to be vigilant in the weeks and months ahead. As we continue to adapt to a new reality, it will be crucial that each of us exercises heroic patience with one another. For some these changes are a welcome adjustment. For others, it will take more time to feel comfortable with the adjustments. For all, this is an opportunity for Christian charity and a renewed commitment to exercise another Unleash the Gospel virtue: unusually gracious hospitality.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit
PARTICULAR DISPENSATION INFORMATION
Archbishop Vigneron announced that the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days expired on Saturday, March 13, 2021. In its place, he has granted a number of particular dispensations for the faithful who may find themselves in specific circumstances.
Please read below for information about these specific dispensations and visit aod.org/comehometohope to learn more about how our parishes are working to keep everyone safe at Mass as well as tips and advice for inviting friends and family to attend Mass with you.
Considering the grave obligation we have of being physically present with our brothers and sisters at Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation for the Eucharist, each of us is asked to make a good and sincere judgement as to whether these circumstances apply or not. Where doubt or confusion persists, consult any priest for clarity.
While the general dispensation is removed, there are specific instances where the dispensation will continue, as well as those circumstances where there is no obligation in the first place. One does not have an obligation to attend Mass on Sunday in the following circumstances:
You are ill or your health condition would be significantly compromised if you were to contract a communicable illness (i.e., you have underlying conditions or are in a high-risk category). Please use the dispensation and do not attend Mass.
You exhibit flu-like symptoms. Please use the dispensation and do not attend Mass.
You have good reason to think you might be asymptomatic of a contagious illness (e.g., you were in recent contact with someone who tested positive for a contagious illness such as COVID or influenza). Please use the dispensation and do not attend Mass.
You care for the sick, homebound, or infirmed.
You are pregnant.
Those 65 years of age or older (per the CDC’s recommendation of high-risk individuals).
You cannot attend Mass through no fault of your own (e.g., no Mass is offered, you are infirmed, or, while wanting to go, you are prevented for some reason you cannot control (e.g., your ride did not show up, the church was at capacity).
If you have significant fear or anxiety of becoming ill by being at Mass.
For questions about the application of any of these, please contact your pastor.
These categories will be reviewed in due course and revised as needed.
Those within categories #1-8 above must still observe the Lord’s Day and are encouraged to spend time in prayer on Sunday, meditating on the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection; an excellent way to do this is through participating in a broadcast of the Sunday Mass.
Click here for more suggestions and information about the coronavirus from the CDC.