3:30 pm ET UPDATE: The county announced it will rescind the order. Read about it here.
Shocking news from my home state, via CNA:
The Archdiocese of Baltimore said it has “serious concerns” about public health guidance from Howard County, Maryland, which prohibits the reception of Communion as a condition for churches to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.
“For the Catholic community, the reception of Communion is central to our faith lives and to our public worship,” said a statement from the archdiocese, released to CNA on Wednesday.
“Since learning of the concerns of Howard County officials, we have shared our guidelines for the distribution of Communion and express our own serious concerns about their recent guidance preventing Catholic churches in Howard County from distributing Communion.”
Howard County’s Executive Order #2020-09, published on May 26, outlines the conditions and regulations that must be met for non-essential businesses–which in Maryland includes churches and other houses of worship–to resume operations. The order was released by Howard County Executive Calvin Ball.
The order provides that “there shall be no consumption of food or beverage of any kind before, during, or after religious services, including food or beverage that would typically be consumed as part of a religious service.”
Since the consumption of the consecrated species at Mass, at least by the celebrant, is an integral part of the Eucharistic rite, the order effectively bans the licit celebration of Mass in the county.
That this would happen in Maryland — a state founded by a Catholic, George Calvert, to provide a religious haven for persecuted Catholics in the 17th century — is beyond ironic. It’s tragic. I’m not aware of similar prohibitions in other counties or states at this time.