COVID-19 Updates

Monday, March 23, 2020.
Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the granting of special Indulgences to the faithful in the current pandemic

The gift of special Indulgences is granted to the faithful suffering from COVID-19 disease, commonly known as Coronavirus, as well as to health care workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom 12: 12). The words written by Saint Paul to the Church of Rome resonate throughout the entire history of the Church and guide the judgment of the faithful in the face of all suffering, sickness and calamity.

The present moment in which the whole of humanity, threatened by an invisible and insidious disease, which for some time now has become part of all our lives, is marked day after day by anguished fears, new uncertainties and above all widespread physical and moral suffering.

The Church, following the example of her Divine Master, has always had the care of the sick at heart. As Saint John Paul II points out, the value of human suffering is twofold: “It is supernatural because it is rooted in the divine mystery of the Redemption of the world, and it is likewise deeply human, because in it the person discovers himself, his own humanity, his own dignity, his own mission” (Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, 31).

Pope Francis, too, in these recent days, has shown his paternal closeness and renewed his invitation to pray incessantly for those who are sick with the Coronavirus.

So that all those who suffer because of COVID-19, precisely in the mystery of this suffering, may rediscover “the same redemptive suffering of Christ” (ibid., 30), this Apostolic Penitentiary, ex auctoritate Summi Pontificis, trusting in the word of Christ the Lord and considering with a spirit of faith the epidemic currently underway, to be lived in a spirit of personal conversion, grants the gift of Indulgences in accordance with the following disposition.

The Plenary Indulgence is granted to the faithful suffering from Coronavirus, who are subject to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes if, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to the celebration of Holy Mass, the recitation of the Holy Rosary, to the pious practice of the Way of the Cross or other forms of devotion, or if at least they will recite the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters, with the will to fulfil the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father's intentions), as soon as possible.

Health care workers, family members and all those who, following the example of the Good Samaritan, exposing themselves to the risk of contagion, care for the sick of Coronavirus according to the words of the divine Redeemer: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15: 13), will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions.

This Apostolic Penitentiary also willingly grants a Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions on the occasion of the current world epidemic, also to those faithful who offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or reading the Holy Scriptures for at least half an hour, or the recitation of the Holy Rosary, or the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or the recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself.

The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, Health of the Sick and Help of Christians, our Advocate, help suffering humanity, saving us from the evil of this pandemic and obtaining for us every good necessary for our salvation and sanctification.

The present Decree is valid notwithstanding any provision to the contrary.

Given in Rome, from the seat of the Apostolic Penitentiary, on 19 March 2020.

X  Mauro Cardinal Piacenza

Major Penitentiary

Krzysztof Nykiel

Regent



Bishop's COVID-19 Update

March 18, 2020

Dear Pastors and People of God,

The spread of COVID-19 in our province and around the world is a matter of deep concern for everyone in our community. Our primary concern must, and always be to care for the spiritual, physical, and mental health and well-being of our fellow parishioners and citizens.

To ensure this, we rely upon our expert medical professionals to provide us with accurate up-to-date information to guide, and protect all of us with the directives they deliver. I have full confidence in the direction given to our province by British Columbia Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

On Monday, Dr. Henry set the limit for group gatherings to a maximum of only 50 people. Asking parishes to limit the number of parishioners coming for Mass to that number (many of whom are seniors) would not be practical or manageable. Therefore, I have made the very difficult decision that effective immediately and until further notice, I am putting in place throughout the Diocese of Victoria the following:

        1. All weekend and weekday Masses, including Sunday Celebrations of the Word are cancelled until further notice. For the duration of this period, I grant to all the Catholic faithful, dispensation from their Sunday obligation. I know that the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is the very heart of our Catholic life, and the inability to gather for this worship is a cause of great suffering. Let us accept this as our duty at this time, and offer this moment in sacrifice to God for the sake of all who are ill from the COVID-19 virus. In these extraordinary circumstances, I encourage everyone to participate remotely in the celebration of the Eucharist by tuning in to daily Mass on Vision TV, or online at dailytvmass.com.
        2. All Parish Penitential celebrations are cancelled.
        3. Priests will continue to respond, upon request, to people in the hospital or at home who are gravely ill.
        4. All celebrations of Baptism, First Reconciliation, Confirmation, and First Eucharist, are postponed. Once the Provincial Health Officer has advised that the pandemic has ended, I shall grant to our Pastors any necessary Delegation to enable them to celebrate these Sacraments at the times they themselves will determine in consultation with parents, and guardians.
        5. Funerals may continue to be celebrated in our churches. In consultation with the relatives of the deceased, the Priest Celebrant will determine if participation needs to be limited to family members, so as to be in compliance with prevailing medical directives. No receptions following the funeral liturgy should take place.
        6Marriages may continue to be celebrated in our churches. In consultation with the couple, the Priest Celebrant will determine how to limit the attendance of family members and others in compliance with prevailing medical directives. Marriage Preparation courses have been cancelled until further notice. As such, Pastors will work with couples to fulfill the required preparations individually.
        7. Parishes that normally keep their churches open during the day may retain this practice. In this way, especially during this uncertain and extraordinary time, we want to offer the assurance that the Church remains close to you and is ready to accompany you through this, or any difficulty.
        8. The Chrism Mass will be canceled, along with all Holy Week and Easter Liturgies.

In addition:
        1. Parishes will continue to take extra precautions to sanitize and disinfect their facilities.
        2. All surfaces are to be washed with germ-killing agents.
        3. Continue enhanced cleaning protocols in all high risk ‘hand-touch’ areas that require more frequent wiping and sanitization.
        4. Frequent, daily communications and updates are to be shared and discussed with all parish groups and ministries.

All other Liturgical Directives that I have communicated to the Diocese in earlier Memo updates from March 5, 2020 onwards remain in place. For the most updated information please go to:
https://www.rcdvictoria.org/diocesan-blog/responsetocovid19

We continue to pray for the rapid end to the COVID-19 virus, for those who are ill or have died, and for their families. May the Lord also bless all those who continue to work fearlessly on the frontlines of this pandemic.

In Communion,
Most Reverend Gary Gordon
Bishop of Victoria



Directives for Groups & Ministries in 

Response to COVID-19

Thursday, March 12, 2020.
As we continue to monitor the effects of COVID-19 in Canada, we must be diligent in our efforts to lessen the potential spread of the virus. We know that the well-being of your loved ones are the most important concern for you during this time.
We want to let you know that we are monitoring the situation closely, and we believe that the risk of COVID-19 adversely affecting our parishes remains low.
However, some of the things that we can do to anticipate and minimize the possible spread of the virus are:

1. Remain vigilant about hand hygiene, and avoid unnecessary contact (hand shaking, hugging etc.)
2. Out of consideration for the well-being of others in the community, the elderly, anyone with an underlying health condition, and those who feel even remotely unwell are excused from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass.
3. If parishioners have access to television or the internet, those who remain at home may watch Mass at https://dailytvmass.com/ or on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/dailytvmass or on VisionTV.
4. In order to reduce social isolation, I encourage everyone to find ways to mobilize people to make phone calls to those who must remain at home, and to provide services such as delivering food and necessary items. Being in regular contact with other parishioners will alleviate loneliness for the homebound.
5. Social gatherings such as pancake breakfasts, pot lucks, buffets, etcetera, that are not essential to the congregation should be suspended until COVID-19 passes.
6. Practice social distancing (2 metres apart) as much as possible.

The situation is fluid and subject to rapid change. We will continue to stay informed, and will share relevant information with you as it is released to us.

We continue to pray for one another, those who are sick, and for our whole society that we may live in charity, be free of anxiety, that our gracious God will bring a swift end to COVID-19, and grant us strength in these challenging times.

-Bishop Gary Gordon.

Statement by Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Monday, March 16, 2020.

‘A unique and special time for prayer, hope, and care

Together with all Canadians, the Catholic Bishops of Canada are following with deep concern the current developments in Canada and throughout the world regarding the rapid global spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which can in certain cases be the cause of serious illness and even death.

The pandemic is now also spreading across Canada. This new virus is understandably a source of anxiety and fear for many. Practical information on responding to the virus and mitigating its spread is available from local public health officials, as well as from the federal and provincial governments, and should be heeded. Catholic faithful are invited to consult their local diocesan/eparchial websites for the preventive measures to be followed for pastoral care and liturgies. Concern for each person and the common good must always be paramount.

As Catholics, we see in every illness a reminder of our own mortality, as well as an invitation to share in Christ’s ministry of healing. In the face of suffering and sickness, Christians are to be credible witnesses to the Lord’s enduring love, providence, and power in our midst. His mercy and care are always present and available.

We will soon be celebrating Easter – Christ’s triumph over death as the Lord of life and the source of everlasting hope. The spread of the COVID-19 virus is a moment for Catholics to offer special prayers of intercession for the healing of those infected, for the protection of the elderly and infirm who are at greatest risk, for the prevention of the disease’s spread, and for the courage and strength of care providers who minister to the sick, their families and those most in need.

In keeping with Our Lord’s teaching, and as part of the sacred tradition for Lent, it is appropriate whenever possible that our prayer be strengthened by fasting, by other expressions of Christian charity or works of spiritual and corporal mercy.

We entrust our country and especially those affected, as well as their loved ones and caretakers, to the powerful and maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and ours.

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