As a result of the most recent government instructions, the following is a summary of the current position regarding Worship and the Sacraments during the Coronavirus pandemic (Updated 24.03.2020):
- Until it is safe for people to gather again, Catholic churches and halls will now remain closed to prevent the Covid-19 Coronavirus infection from spreading.
- No Masses with a congregation will be celebrated in the Diocese of Leeds until further notice, although priests will continue to celebrate Mass within the church each day without the presence of the faithful.
- Leeds Cathedral, the Mother Church of the Diocese of Leeds, will live-stream daily Mass at 10:30am starting on Wednesday 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Holy Mass will be live-streamed on Sundays at 11:00am. The Angelus and Rosary will be prayed at 12:00 noon, Monday to Saturday.
- On Friday 27 March and Friday 3 April, in accordance with the Cathedral’s usual practice, the Angelus will be followed by the Stations of the Cross. The Cathedral’s live-stream can be viewed at: www.leedscathedrallive.org.uk
- Some live and some pre-recorded weekday and Sunday Masses are being celebrated online by priests in several of our parishes. The following list will be updated upon receipt of information about where to find Holy Mass Online in the Diocese of Leeds
- Neither clergy nor laity are able to make pastoral visits to people’s homes, although telephone support is encouraged to be offered when possible to any member of the faithful who requests this. In addition, the diocesan charity Catholic Care has initiated a Community Response Package: Catholic Care Community Response Service
- Priests will only be able to visit the sick in hospitals when arrangements for this are permitted by the relevant hospital or health authority.
- Funeral arrangements must be made by clergy in collaboration with the Funeral Directors appointed by the family of the deceased. It is now only possible for a priest or deacon to conduct a service at the graveside or at a crematorium (subject to the conditions laid down by the cemetery or crematorium authorities) with attendance restricted to next of kin only. Arrangements may be made for a Funeral Mass or Funeral Liturgy to be celebrated in memoriam at a time in due course when congregations are allowed to gather safely.
- Services at the cemetery or crematorium should not be conducted by priests or deacons over 70 years of age or whose underlying health conditions make them vulnerable to a more severe form of illness.
- The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Reconciliation, as well as celebrations of First Holy Communion and First Reconciliation, are to be deferred until such time that the public health advice is that the restrictions on peoples movement from their homes is lifted and/or that congregations of family and friends can gather safely.
- Clergy living in shared residential accommodation (such as those at Cathedral House) may celebrate Mass together in church but not in the close confines of a small chapel or room in their residence.
- As Permanent Deacons may have families of their own and may have contact with a wide range of people in the course of their secular employment, until further notice Mass will be celebrated without the assistance of Permanent Deacons.
In addition to this information being made available on the Diocesan Website: https://www.dioceseofleeds.org.uk/ the Bishop is asking the Parish Priests of the Diocese to arrange for the best way to notify their parishioners of the arrangements. Notices will be displayed outside the church(es) in each parish saying that public Mass is not being celebrated and that the church is closed until it is safe for people to gather again without the risk of infection by the Covid-19 Coronavirus.
NB – It is important to remember that the Bishop’s Instructions are addressed to the clergy of the Diocese, and detailed explanatory notes have also been issued to priests, religious and seminarians. In terms of the live-streaming of Holy Mass from Leeds Cathedral, the laity should be assured that all public health guidelines are being adhered to.
The Bishop recommends the following prayer and liturgical resources which are available to download: