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Coronavirus : nouvelles restrictions sur les cultes publics

In relation to the increase in the number of coronavirus infections in Poland, on 24 March 2020 the Minister of Health amended the regulation issued four days before in which the state of epidemic on the territory of the Republic of Poland was announced. The amendments consisted in introducing new emergency coronavirus measures, which are to be in force until 11 April 2020.

The new restrictions refer, among other things, to public worship. From 25 March, the number of the participants in a religious ceremony cannot exceed 5 people (excluding persons leading the worship). On the basis of the ministerial regulation of 24 March, the organization of any other gatherings or meetings is not allowed either (except for meetings of closest family members or necessary work-related gatherings). Moreover, any non-essential movement has been banned (the permissible exceptions concern performing work-related activities, fulfilling basic daily needs, fighting the effects of coronavirus as well as performing and participating in worship). Before 24 March, the restrictions established in the regulations of the Minister of Health of 13 and 20 March were in force (introducing, respectively, the state of epidemic emergency and the state of epidemic). On the basis of these regulations, the number of participants of religious ceremonies (and any other gatherings) was limited to maximum 50 people.

In the communiqué published on 24 March 2020, the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, as he did it before, asked Polish people to respect the restrictions introduced by the authorities regarding public worship. At the same time, he encouraged the faithful to pray at home, especially while listening to or watching the Holy Mass broadcast by mass media. Several days earlier (on 21 March) the Presidency of the Polish Bishops’ Conference published instructions on “performing liturgical activities in the following weeks”, addressed at the diocesan bishops. In this document, the bishops were requested to issue detailed decisions and instructions referring to the documents of the Holy See published on 19 and 20 March : the decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (on Easter celebrations), the decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary (on granting special indulgences to the faithful) and the note of the Apostolic Penitentiary (on the sacrament of reconciliation). At the same time, the bishops were reminded “not to use general absolution in an unlawful way” (however, it was also clearly stated that general absolution can be used when there is imminent danger of death and individual confession is not possible). It was also pointed out that “confession via electronic media (e.g., telephones or instant messaging) is not possible”. Moreover, the bishops were clearly asked to ensure that the number of the faithful participating in religious gatherings complies with the current recommendations issued by public authorities. They were also reminded to prolong the dispensations from the obligation to participate in the Sunday Mass (the dispensations granted previously concerned the period until 29 March).

D 27 mars 2020    APiotr Stanisz

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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