Washington’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese outlines precautions for safe Christmas masses – Catholic Standard


As Catholics prepare for Christmas celebrations, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington continues to prioritize policies to ensure that in-person attendance at Mass safely reduces the risk of the coronavirus spreading. At the same time, the Archdiocese, many parishes and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception continue to offer the possibility of participating in Mass through YouTube and other platforms.

Masses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are usually among the most frequented liturgies in Catholic churches. With more people vaccinated against COVID-19, mass attendance at Christmas is expected to increase from last year, as vaccines were just starting to become available.

Parishes in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington still follow the guidelines (https://adw.org/coronavirus/) which have been updated regularly throughout the pandemic. They include:

• In accordance with local regulations, masks are mandatory inside churches in Prince George and Montgomery counties. Starting Tuesday, December 21, the District of Columbia will reinstate its mask mandate. Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties currently do not require the use of masks. However, in October, Father Daniel B. Carson, Vicar General and Curia Moderator for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, informed priests that even in jurisdictions that do not require the mask, “pastors have the right to do so. discretion to ask the faithful to continue to mask themselves. in their respective parishes if they wish. Therefore, pastors in jurisdictions that do not require masks still have the prerogative to require that spectators of Mass in their parish wear a mask.

All jurisdictions can change their policies if conditions warrant.

• Ordinary and extraordinary Communion ministers are required to wear masks when distributing Communion.

• Social distancing is always encouraged indoors. Pastors are allowed to reduce the distance to allow use of all rows. Pastors may also choose to reserve a section of the church that maintains a 6-foot distance for those who wish to maintain more social distancing.

People who are reluctant to celebrate Christmas in a full church are encouraged to join one of the many masses available online. Here are some options for locating one:

• The Archdiocese’s YouTube page (www.youtube.com/c/WashArchdiocese/featured) and link to Mass on Christmas Eve (https://adw.org/event/vigil-mass-for-the-solemnity-of-the-nativity-of-the-lord/)

• Directory of parishes (https://adw.org/parishes-masses/parish-mass-finder/) many of which list their own options for online masses on their websites.

• Masses of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (www.nationalshrine.org/mass/).

As is always the case when Christmas falls on a Saturday, parishes will offer Sunday Masses as usual on December 26. Check with each parish to see if the hours have been adjusted.


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