The latest from the chancery reads, in part:
CHURCHES: NEW MANDATES!
- Because of the ongoing danger of groups gathering and the possibility of the virus spreading in this way, we are MANDATING churches to remain closed. Some parishes have already found it necessary to do this and, in light of the proximity of our parishes to each other, it is thought best to have a consistent policy in the entire diocese. THIS IS EFFECTIVE AS OF MARCH 20, 2020 at NOON.
- At this time, too, we are MANDATING parish offices to close for business in an attempt to keep people in their homes as much as possible for their own health and wellbeing. Most parish office business can be conducted by telephone. Those who can work from home should do so. THIS IS EFFECTIVE AS OF MARCH 20, 2020 at NOON.
- Bishop DiMarzio has granted all the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn a dispensation from the law of abstinence for the Fridays of Lent for this year. This is being done to assist people who may have difficulties in shopping for food or other reasons which would make this practice difficult at this time. Please remind parishioners that the Fridays of Lent (and indeed all year) remain days of penance and prayer and that this is needed now more than ever.
- Out of an abundance of caution especially the most vulnerable, Funerals and weddings will not be permitted in church. This is because limiting the funerals and weddings to 10 people is proving not to be feasible. If absolutely necessary, a graveside service, maintaining the recommendations of the CDC regarding social distancing, could be done, at the discretion of the cemetery administration. A memorial Mass for the deceased should be celebrated later. Weddings should be postponed.
- We must also remind pastors and administrators of the precautions that should be taken when hearing confessions. These should be limited to emergencies only and while it is necessary for the confession to be one-on-one and in person, social distancing measures should be observed. A suggestion might be to hear a confession outdoors where the priest and penitent can be at some distance from each other. We also remind priests that spiritual counseling should be given over the phone only. In general, we encourage priests to be in contact with their parishioners over the phone or by social media while respecting safe-environment protocols.