Guidance to dioceses and parishes, issued by the NZ Catholic Bishops under the advice of Fr John O’Connor Acting Director, National Liturgy Office.
Tēnā koutou katoa friends,
The National Liturgy Office and NZ Catholic Bishops continue to monitor the situation with health professionals at the Ministry of Health, who advise us that there is still no need for change to our liturgy practices, because the virus is so far not being transmitted in the community. We are in daily contact with the Ministry on the situation as it specifically relates to matters of Mass practice.
Dioceses and parishes may, however, introduce changes as they see fit, which is appropriate at this time. It is important they can respond to the concerns and needs of their communities. It is increasingly evident that there is a significant degree of fear among some parishioners, and it is essential that the Church is a safe place for people when they gather for Mass.
We therefore ask each diocese, parish and Catholic community to respond with appropriate sensitivity to the fear that exists, even when the fear may not be based on fact. Our human fears are often irrational, but this is where the Church and every member of the Church must show pastoral sensitivity and respond appropriately.
Further information on standard hygiene at Mass is available on the National Liturgy Office website: https://www.nlo.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Hygiene-at-Mass.pdf
We wish to emphasise with all parishioners the following good practices of hygiene from the Ministry of Health website:
- covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, or coughing/sneezing into your elbow
- disposing of used tissues appropriately in a bin
- washing hands with soap and water and drying them thoroughly or using hand sanitiser:
o before eating or handling food
o after using the toilet
o after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses
o after touching public surfaces
o after caring for sick people
- if you are sick, do not attend public events
- try to keep a metre away from people who are unwell
Food handlers should be extra vigilant with hand hygiene and should not work if they feel unwell. It is also a good idea to clean surfaces regularly with antiseptic wipes or regular household disinfectant, including bleach solutions.
We will continue to monitor advice from the Ministry of Health and provide updates as and when is appropriate.
Note: While the World Health Organisation has just declared this event a Pandemic, the Ministry of Health has for weeks now been following the 2017 NZ Pandemic Plan.