Here’s a welcome update to this story that I posted this morning.
Details, via the Archdiocese of Baltimore:
In an executive order issued May 26, the county executive of Howard County issued regulations for religious institutions that would seem to disallow the distribution of the Eucharist in Catholic churches. After the Archdiocese of Baltimore expressed “serious concerns” about the order, the county acknowledged that the restriction would be withdrawn.
The order noted that the utilization of Howard County General Hospital had decreased seven of the last 14 days, since a spike at 78.8 percent of capacity May 15.
The order allowed barber shops and hair salons to open at 50 percent of maximum occupancy as of 7 a.m. May 29. But the same order continued to limit indoor religious gatherings to no more than 10 people; outdoor religious services would be capped at 250 people.
The executive order mandated: “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.”
Such restriction would restrict the distribution of holy Communion, an integral part of a Catholic Mass. In fact, if the priest could not consume the Body and Blood of Christ after consecration, it would not be a valid Mass.
The order also required that all attendees at indoor or outdoor religious services must maintain a 6-foot distance and wear face masks or facial coverings at all times.
A statement from the archdiocese May 27 said, “For the Catholic community, the reception of Communion is central to faith lives and to our public worship. The Archdiocese of Baltimore has developed thorough and carefully thought-out guidelines for resuming public Masses, including detailed guidance on the safe distribution of Communion.
“These guidelines respect both the sanctity of the sacrament and the need for abundant caution to protect the health and safety of both those receiving and distributing Communion,” the statement said.
In a statement May 28, Scott Peterson, Howard County spokesperson, said that since Hogan has announced a modified reopening of restaurants in the state May 27, the county would revisit all food consumption restrictions. “As we move closer to a full Phase 1 reopening, we will be lifting food consumption restrictions for faith institutions,” he said.