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Archbishop’s advice as restrictions tighten

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP at the outdoor Mass at Our Lady of the Rosary in Fairfield on Laetare Sunday 22 March, before churches were closed. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

Simplified and shortened Holy Week and Easter celebrations will be live-streamed from St Mary’s Cathedral and a number of Sydney parishes amid the latest tightening of public health restrictions, says Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP in his latest pastoral letter.

Dated 30 March, the archbishop’s letter shares his thoughts and advice on the implications of the Federal Government’s two-person indoor limit rule for the Catholic Church’s already restricted ministries.

It includes that there be no distribution of palms or Holy Communion outside of churches, reminds priests and the faithful that churches must remain closed, offers advice on safe and practical ways to celebrate and live-stream Masses, and recommends the postponement of weddings.

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First-rite confessions between a penitent and a priest are not affected, so long as they are not carried out in churches or in a way that encourages the gathering of groups.

“The steps being taken by our governments and health authorities, though seemingly very austere, are based on the best available advice on what is necessary to keep people safe,” writes the archbishop.

“They are therefore measures of concern and compassion with which the Church is happy to cooperate, challenging as it is for us, as we seek to maintain our life of prayer and worship, or teaching and consolation, while actually increasing our pastoral and other practical care for people.”

The archbishop also outlined the many creative ways that parishes are seeking to carry out their ministries, including the live-streaming of Masses and other activities and devotions, the lighting of churches with street-facing windows and the building of volunteer teams to deliver groceries, medications, prayer cards and Easter eggs to the doorsteps of those who are self-isolated or quarantined.

It is the archbishop’s third pastoral letter on the Church in Sydney’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full letter available here.

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