International News

With COVID-19 Waning, Vatican Urges Care With Holy Week Liturgies

By Cindy Wooden 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With many, but not all, COVID-19 restrictions eased in many parts of the world, the Vatican asked bishops and priests to be prudent in their planning for Holy Week and Easter liturgies but offered no firm instructions.

A priest wearing a protective mask distributes Communion during Easter Mass at St. Peter Parish: Shrine of Leaders in Manila, Philippines, April 4, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. With COVID-19 restrictions easing, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is urging bishops and priests to take care in planning their 2022 Holy Week and Easter liturgies. (CNS photo/Lisa Marie David, Reuters)

“In view of the ongoing slowdown of the pandemic, albeit at different rates in individual countries, we do not intend to offer any further guidelines for the Holy Week celebrations,” said a letter from Archbishop Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

In the letter, released at the Vatican March 25, Archbishop Roche said the experience that bishops’ conferences gained dealing with government rules and health safety recommendations in 2020 and 2021 “is certainly sufficient to deal with the various situations in the most appropriate ways, always taking care to observe the ritual norms contained in the liturgical books.”

However, the archbishop did “urge everyone to be prudent and avoid actions and behavior that could potentially be a risk.”

Archbishop Roche also encouraged bishops to make their decisions in agreement with other members of their bishops’ conference and taking into “due consideration the regulations that the competent civil authorities of the various countries adopt.”

And with the ongoing war in Ukraine, the archbishop reminded bishops that the “solemn intercessions” made during the commemoration of the Passion on Good Friday, the church’s liturgical norms permit and encourage bishops to add a special intention “in a situation of grave public need.”

Therefore, he said, they may want to consider adding a prayer “for all our brothers and sisters who are experiencing the horror of war, particularly in Ukraine.”