Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Catholic Church

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A man wearing purple vestments and standing at an altar uses a mobile phone camera to record himself. Empty pews are visible in the background.
An American military chaplain prepares for a live-streamed liturgy in an empty chapel at Offutt Air Force Base in March 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020 has significantly impacted liturgical celebrations of the Catholic Church worldwide. The Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) stated that the pandemic has become not "just a medical, social and economic problem, but also a pastoral problem", which led ACN to start encouraging a special program for the actions of priests and religious against the virus spread.[1]

Public masses

In March 2020 all public Masses were suspended in Vatican City and Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic. These suspensions began in late-February in the Archdioceses of Milan and Venice and were extended to the rest of the Italian peninsula on 8 March.[2] Setting an example for churches unable to celebrate public Masses due to the lockdown, Pope Francis began livestreaming daily Mass from his residence at Domus Sanctae Marthae on 9 March.[3] Outside Italy, Mass in cities around the world were suspended in the days that followed.[4][5] At the height of the outbreak in Italy,[6] on 27 March, Pope Francis imparted the Urbi et Orbi blessing, normally reserved for Christmas and Easter, from an empty Saint Peter's Square following a prayer for the health of all the world.[7][8] For the prayer service, Francis brought the crucifix from San Marcello al Corso which had processed through the streets of Rome during the miraculous plague cure of 1522.[9] The prayer service concluded with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, as church bells were rung and sirens blared across Rome.[10][11] The spread of COVID-19 soon slowed in Italy, and public Masses were allowed to resume on 18 May, with Pope Francis celebrating his last daily live-stream Mass and first public Mass since the lockdown on the centenary of the birth of Pope John Paul II.[12]

All over the world, many churches have suspended the presence of the faithful in their Masses, and resorted to virtual services for broadcasting the celebrations, such as live streaming or other ones, like television and radio.[13][14] The Vatican announced that the Holy Week celebrations in Rome, which take place at the end of Lent—Christian penitential period—would be canceled. Some dioceses ordered their churches to be closed to the public, while in other dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of New York, although they canceled the Masses, their churches remained open for prayer.[15] In Spain, many cities canceled their Holy Week festivities. This event is usually celebrated with parades and significant collections with tourism; in Seville, it was the first time that events were canceled since 1933.[16] Due to the interruption of several Catholic religious activities (if not their totality), Pope Francis greatly encouraged the prayer of the Holy Rosary.[17]

Commentary on vaccine

On February 26, 2021, the Archdiocese of New Orleans issued a statement calling the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine "morally compromised," as it uses an abortion-derived cell line in vaccine production.[18]

Impact on finances

The 2020 fiscal report for the Vatican showed a decrease in revenue of about 50%, but the Institute for the Works of Religion contributed more income. Expenses were reduced by $3.88 million. The Vatican also planned to increase their liquid capital in response to market uncertainty in order to avoid selling Church assets in unfavorable market conditions.[19]

References

  1. ^ "Ajuda da ACN durante pandemia". Aid to the Church in Need. 2020-06-02. Retrieved 2020-08-12.
  2. ^ Mares, Courtney (8 March 2020). "Diocese of Rome cancels all public Masses, announces day of fasting and prayer". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Pope Francis' morning Mass broadcast live every day". Vatican News. 8 March 2020. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  4. ^ Nerozzi, Timothy (4 March 2020). "Japanese dioceses suspend Masses amid coronavirus epidemic". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 13 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Do we have Mass? Coronavirus closures and dispensations in US dioceses". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Italy Coronavirus Map and Case Count". New York Times. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Declaration of the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni". Holy See. 22 March 2020. Retrieved 23 March 2020..
  8. ^ "Read: Pope Francis' Urbi et Orbi address on coronavirus and Jesus calming the storm". America Magazine. 27 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Miraculous crucifix moved to St. Peter's Square for Pope Francis' 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing". Catholic News Agency. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Extraordinary moment of prayer presided at by the Holy Father before Saint Peter's Basilica Homily of the Holy Father". Holy See. 22 March 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2020..
  11. ^ "Pope at Urbi et orbi: Full text of his meditation - Vatican News". vaticannews.va. 2020-03-27. Retrieved 2020-03-28.
  12. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (12 May 2020). "Pope to celebrate Mass for JPII centenary on 18 May, cease live-broadcast of daily Mass". Vatican News. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Arquidioceses e dioceses suspendem atividades por conta do coronavírus". Canção Nova Notícias. 2020-03-18. Retrieved 2020-08-12.
  14. ^ Parke, Caleb (2020-03-13). "Churches cancel Sunday service, move online amid coronavirus outbreak". Fox News. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  15. ^ Burke, Daniel (2020-03-14). "What churches, mosques and temples are doing to fight the spread of coronavirus". CNN. Retrieved 2020-03-16.
  16. ^ Saiz, Eva (2020-03-14). "Sevilla suspende su Semana Santa por el coronavirus". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  17. ^ "Coronavirus, COVID-19: Catholic church masses suspended in diocese". Wellington Times. 2020-03-20. Retrieved 2020-08-12.
  18. ^ "A Statement Regarding the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine". Archdiocese of New Orleans. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  19. ^ Brockhaus, Hannah (24 July 2021). "Vatican increasing 'liquid' assets as it faces financial impact of coronavirus pandemic, economic officials say". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2 August 2021.