With recommendation from the College of Consultors, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone will allow the following updated protocols for COVID-19 to be implemented. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass is still in effect and has not been lifted.
The blocking of every other pew may be removed at the pastor’s discretion, provided:
- social distancing is strongly encouraged,
- parishioners are encouraged to continue wearing masks,
- all adjustments to attendance abide by local ordinances.
While all occupancy restrictions and limitations have been removed in South Carolina, it is the expectation of Bishop Guglielmone that local ordinances and all precautions will be met.
In addition, the bishop will allow the following:
- holy water fonts may be filled (they are optional),
- restrictions on the presentation of the gifts are eliminated,
- missals, missalettes and song books may be reintroduced,
- restrictions on singing are lifted: the bishop encourages each parish to have music for the Easter Triduum as we celebrate the Resurrection with joyful and triumphant song.
These restrictions still apply:
- the Eucharist is strongly recommended to be placed in the hand, and not on the tongue,
distribution of the Eucharist should continue to be offered under the form of Bread alone,
- the Sign of Peace should not be reintroduced,
- there should not be touching or kissing of the crucifix for the Good Friday Veneration of the Cross; it must be done at a distance.
The following recommendations are encouraged and can be implemented:
- Overflow seating arrangements in churches are encouraged for those parishioners who want to continue with extra social distancing. Please give this due consideration for those who are uncomfortable with a return to closer seating arrangements.
- Livestreaming Masses for those who are unable to attend and who are still dispensed from attending Mass is strongly encouraged.
The Vatican recommends that Eucharistic processions not be held, and its suggestions for the Triduum are linked here. A procession is permitted in our diocese as long as social distancing and local ordinances are followed appropriately.
As always, please consider the direction of your civic authorities and local ordinances when determining how best to implement COVID-19 protocols for your parish and school communities.