Bishop Douglas Lucia has written a letter to all clergy, religious and laity of the diocese. Here are some excerpts:
- Effectively immediately, all Catholics entrusted to the care of Bishop Lucia as well as those who are within the territory of the Diocese of Syracuse are hereby dispensed from the obligation of abstaining from meat on Good Friday as well as on the remaining Fridays during Lent. The purpose of this dispensation is to assist those for whom the practice of abstinence is difficult at this time, for example, because of the current shopping situation. However, those who can abstain from meat are encouraged to do so. Additionally, the law of fasting on Good Friday remains for Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59. It is important that the remaining days of Lent continue to be days of penance and prayer.
- At the present moment, all public gatherings for Mass, prayer, Faith Formation and certain parish activities remain canceled and the faithful remain dispensed from the obligation to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays.
- In light of what is known about Covid-19 and its duration, the following provisions for Holy Week and Easter must now also be made:
- The Light is On campaign is cancelled. General absolution is not permitted.
- All public liturgical celebrations and gatherings, specifically, Palm Sunday, The Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday are canceled. They are to be celebrated by priests in private. Further guidance will be provided in the days ahead by the Office of Liturgy.
- Regarding the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the elect are dispensed from two of the scrutinies and the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation may take place outside of the Easter Vigil, namely, on any Sunday up to and including the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (R.C.I.A. no. 34, 2). Further guidance will be provided in the days ahead by the Office of Liturgy and the R.C.I.A.
- Celebrations of First Holy Communion and Confirmation are postponed. Further guidance concerning when and how the celebration of these sacraments can take place as well as what is required to prepare those receiving them will be provided in the days ahead by the Offices of Catechesis and Liturgy.
- Churches and parish facilities (food pantries, offices, etc.) may remain open with limited personnel following the guidelines of the local government and the Center for Disease Control.
“Allow me to extend to you the powerful words that Jesus spoke to his disciples when they were in the midst of a storm on the water, being tossed about in a boat by the wind and the waves: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matt 14: 27),” the bishop writes in the letter. “We are, indeed, in turbulent times, being tossed about by the waves of this pandemic. We are hindered, but not prevented, in our ability to be nourished and to respond spiritually. Nevertheless, we should not be afraid. The Lord is with us.”