CNA Staff, Sep 12, 2020 / 10:35 am
In a letter to the leaders of the world's episcopal conferences, the head of the Vatican's office for worship and sacraments said that Catholic communities should return to Mass as soon as it can be done safely, and that the Christian life cannot be sustained without the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Christian community of the Church.
The letter, sent to bishops this week, said that, while the Church should cooperate with civic authorities and be attentive to safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic, "liturgical norms are not matters on which civil authorities can legislate, but only the competent ecclesiastical authorities." It also emphasized that bishops can make provisional changes to liturgical rubrics in order to accommodate public health concerns, and urged obedience to those temporary changes.
"In listening to and collaborating with civil authorities and experts," bishops and episcopal conferences "were prompt to make difficult and painful decisions, even to the point of suspending the participation of the faithful in the celebration of the Eucharist for a long period. This Congregation is deeply grateful to the Bishops for their commitment and effort in trying to respond in the best possible way to an unforeseen and complex situation," Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote in Let us return to the Eucharist with joy, dated Aug. 15 and approved by Pope Francis Sept. 3.
"As soon as circumstances permit, however, it is necessary and urgent to return to the normality of Christian life, which has the church building as its home and the celebration of the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, as 'the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; and at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows' (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10)."