Prudence to govern Holy Week celebrations

The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is asking bishops to make “prudent decisions” concerning Holy Week celebrations.

It’s important they consider how their communities should celebrate Holy Week because of the danger of spreading coronavirus, the letter says.

The Congregation emphasised the probability of regional differences in the bishops’ decisions. Some regions may be able to hold more traditional Easter services, while others will not.

“We are still facing the drama of the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought many changes, even to our normal way of celebrating the liturgy,” the letter says.

“The norms and directives contained in the liturgical books, drawn up with normal times in view, are not entirely applicable in exceptional moments of crisis such as these.”

The letter notes that the measures put in place last year to allow for simplified celebrations of Holy Week remain valid for 2021’s Easter services.

Last year, the Congregation told the bishops to comply with any local health measures. They were permitted to celebrate Holy Week without the presence of the faithful.

It also suggested that bishops celebrate Holy Thursday without the washing of the feet and Good Friday without the kissing of the cross.

The letter does suggest a new development in this year’s arrangements however: that bishops encourage people unable to physically come to services to take part through livestreams or media coverage.

Catholics and Christians around the world Feb. 17 began Lent, the 40-day season in preparation of Easter, with the celebration of Ash Wednesday.

On Ash Wednesday Pope Francis marked the start of Lent with a small service in St. Peter’s Basilica. In his homily, the pope called the season leading to Easter “a humble descent both inwards and towards others.”

“It is about realizing that salvation is not an ascent to glory, but a descent in love,” said the pontiff. “It is about becoming little.”


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