Diocese of Plymouth From the Office of the Bishop

DECREE SUSPENDING RELIGIOUS SERVICES

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having consulted the Ordinaries of the Dioceses, has agreed that the cessation of public liturgies should begin from Friday evening 20th March 2020. Because of the situation the Church finds herself in, the

obligation for the faithful to attend Holy Mass on a Sunday or Holy day of Obligation is removed, until further notice.

The following instruction is now given for the celebration of the Sacraments and sacramentals of the Church at this time.

Celebrations of Holy Mass

Priests (parish priest and assistant priests) who hold parochial office should continue to celebrate Mass in a church within their parish without the faithful on a daily basis. Other priests (i.e. retired from office or entrusted with a non-parochial ministry) may celebrate Mass without the faithful in a church, chapel or their private home. Deacons should not participate in these celebrations.

The continuing celebration of Mass ensures that the faithful can join in spiritual communion with the priests of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states (1364): As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which ‘Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed’ is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out. Daily liturgical resources for those at home, including those for making a “Spiritual Communion” with the priest, will be available on the CBCEW website.

Information about the online celebration of Mass will be made widely available in our diocese so that the faithful can participate in the prayers of the priest at Mass at home. There are also opportunities available nationally. A fine example of this is from The National Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham will continue its full liturgical programme and this will be available to all via the Internet (www.walsingham.org.uk)

Wherever possible, during this period, churches will remain open, especially on Sundays, for individual private prayer, without any organised services, and offering prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.