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GUIDELINES FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN JAPAN

2020年11月10日

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GUIDELINES FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN JAPAN

https://www.cbcj.catholic.jp/2020/1...

GUIDELINES FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN JAPAN FOR DEALING WITH INFECTIOUS DISEASES

The New Coronavirus - COVID-19 infec­tion that has spread around the world since early 2020 has had a tremen­dous impact on the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity and has dra­mat­i­cally changed our daily lives. Many people have lost their lives to the infec­tion, and pan­demic-caused iso­la­tion has made it impos­sible to give com­fort in person to those who loved them and mourn their loss. 1 Yet we have seen many people con­front the infec­tion and fear, offering sup­port and com­fort. 2 As the whole world suf­fers, the many efforts toward healing and sol­i­darity invite us to reflect on and act upon what we must do as Christians. 3

Therefore, we have decided that what we have learned as we groped to deal with the COVID-19 pan­demic should be orga­nized as guide­lines for risk man­age­ment in the event of any future infec­tious dis­ease caused by a sim­ilar unknown pathogen. In using these guide­lines, please adapt them as nec­es­sary, con­sid­ering regional char­ac­ter­is­tics and cir­cum­stances in the dio­cese, dis­trict or parish. Since med­ical treat­ment may change depending on the dis­ease, we rec­om­mend con­sul­ta­tion with spe­cial­ists and med­ical per­sonnel.

These guide­lines are based on the expe­ri­ence of responding to COVID-19. If in the future a new infec­tious dis­ease emerges, we will revise them as nec­es­sary.

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan November 1, 2020

RISK MANAGEMENT IN THE EVENT OF AN OUTBREAK OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE

When an infec­tious dis­ease out­break occurs over­seas

Steps to take when an infec­tious dis­ease has occurred and spread out­side Japan, but no infec­tions have been con­firmed in
Japan:

•Alert parishes.

•Re­quest that parish­ioners who have trav­eled in an infected region within sev­eral weeks refrain from attending Mass and dis­pense them from the obli­ga­tion to attend Mass.

When an infec­tious dis­ease out­break occurs in Japan

Steps to take when cases of infec­tion have been con­firmed in Japan, but the national and pre­fec­tural gov­ern­ments have not issued a state of emer­gency or a request to refrain from busi­ness or move­ment:

•Alert parishes.

•Wearing masks in the church by priests and con­gre­ga­tions.

•Post­pone meet­ings and events that are not urgent or essen­tial.

•Re­quest that the elderly or those who feel unwell refrain from attending Mass and dis­pense them from the obli­ga­tion to attend Mass.

•No using the holy water font.

•Provide alcohol hand dis­in­fec­tant at the church entrance.

•No offer­tory pro­ces­sions.

•No col­lec­tions during Mass.

•No phys­ical con­tact (hand­shakes, hugs, kisses, etc.) during the Sign of Peace.

•Re­quest that people refrain from receiving the Eucharist on the tongue.

Regarding Masses and sacra­ments, please refer to Attachment 1: Guidelines for sacra­ments and litur­gical prac­tices during infec­tious dis­ease epi­demics.

When an infec­tious dis­ease spreads in Japan

Steps to take when an infec­tious dis­ease is spreading in Japan and the gov­ern­ment has declared a state of emer­gency and requested refraining from busi­ness and move­ment:

•Cancel Masses with a con­gre­ga­tion (Masses without a con­gre­ga­tion may be cel­e­brated) and dis­pense all Catholics from the obli­ga­tion to attend Mass.

•Cancel all church activ­i­ties except Masses without a con­gre­ga­tion.

•Post­pone the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony and Penance will. The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick should be admin­is­tered only in case of emer­gency and with proper mea­sures against infec­tion.

•Fu­nerals should be planned in con­sul­ta­tion with the bereaved including suf­fi­cient mea­sures against infec­tion. Consideration should be given to cre­mating the remains but post­poning the funeral to a later date.

When an infec­tious dis­ease con­tinues in Japan

Steps to take when a state of emer­gency and a request to refrain from busi­ness and move­ment have been lifted, but the infec­tious dis­ease is still widespread.

•Public Masses may be cel­e­brated after taking the fol­lowing mea­sures against infec­tious dis­eases. For details, refer to Attachment 1: Guidelines for sacra­ments and litur­gical prac­tices during infec­tious dis­ease epi­demics.

Limit the number of people to main­tain suf­fi­cient social dis­tancing.

Re­quest that the elderly or those who have under­lying med­ical con­di­tions refrain from attending Mass.

Dis­pense all Catholics from the obli­ga­tion to attend Mass.

Wearing masks in the church by priests and con­gre­ga­tions.

Be­fore entering the church, all atten­dees will have their tem­per­a­ture taken and will record of their name, con­tact infor­ma­tion and the date.

Provide alcohol hand dis­in­fec­tant at the church entrance.

No use of shared song­books or prayer cards. They should be removed from the church.

Wor­ship aids should be taken home and not left behind. Extras should be dis­carded.

No using the holy water font.

Provide suf­fi­cient ven­ti­la­tion during Mass.

No con­gre­ga­tional singing. Provided suf­fi­cient social dis­tancing is observed, Refrains and other songs may be sung by a small choir.

Short hom­i­lies.

No offer­tory pro­ces­sions.

No col­lec­tions during Mass.

No phys­ical con­tact (hand­shakes, hugs, kisses, etc.) during the Sign of Peace.

Be­fore Communion, both priests and con­gre­ga­tion dis­in­fect their hands again.

Re­quest that people refrain from receiving the Eucharist on the tongue.

• Sacraments

Bap­tism: it is desir­able to cel­e­brate bap­tism during Mass with a com­mu­nity but take suf­fi­cient mea­sures against infec­tion.

Wed­dings: take mea­sures against infec­tion and have only a small number of people.

Con­fes­sion: take mea­sures against infec­tion and keep social dis­tance between the priest and the pen­i­tent.

Anointing of the Sick: take suf­fi­cient pre­cau­tions against infec­tion.

• Funerals

Fu­nerals should be planned in con­sul­ta­tion with the bereaved including suf­fi­cient mea­sures against infec­tion.

• Activities

Avoid the 「Three Cs」 (closed spaces with poor ven­ti­la­tion, crowded places with many people nearby, close-con­tact set­tings, such as close-range con­ver­sa­tions), keep social dis­tance, and finish in a short time.

When an infec­tious dis­ease out­break eases in Japan

When the inci­dence of an infec­tious dis­ease eases, the coun­ter­mea­sures in When an infec­tious dis­ease out­break occurs in Japan (above) are to be put into effect.

When an infec­tious dis­ease out­break ends in Japan

When an out­break of an infec­tious dis­ease has ended, normal church activ­i­ties resume. 

Appendix 1

GUIDELINES FOR SACRAMENTS AND LITURGICAL PRACTICES DURING INFECTIOUS DISEASE EPIDEMICS

1. Guidelines for Mass

Before and After Mass

•Care­fully dis­in­fect fre­quently used areas (door­knobs, seats, etc.) in the church before and after each Mass.

•Do not place hym­nals or wor­ship aids in the pews.

•Do not use the holy water font at the entrance to the church until instructed that it is safe to do so.

•Pre­pare rub­bing alcohol to dis­in­fect hands throughout the church.

•The con­gre­ga­tion must wear masks when entering the church and during Mass, except when receiving Communion. Celebrants
(at least during the Liturgy of the Eucharist), con­cel­e­brants, dea­cons and other min­is­ters must also wear masks during the Mass.

•The number of people who can attend Mass and the loca­tion of seats must be clearly posted at the entrance.

•The door to the church should be open. If anyone touches a door­knob, dis­in­fect it imme­di­ately.

•Anyone entering the church must wear a mask and dis­in­fect their hands.

•Someone should be des­ig­nated to manage and guide par­tic­i­pants.

•The con­gre­ga­tion should main­tain social dis­tancing from each other. This also applies to the person in charge of music.

•In the sac­risty, be careful to avoid the so-called 「Three Cs」 (closed spaces, crowded places, close-con­tact set­tings). Do not share hand wipes or towels.

•Pre­pare the bread and wine in advance at the cre­dence table. Do not open the lid of a cibo­rium (pyx), and use a pall for the paten and chalice.

•Dis­in­fect the doors and keys of the taber­nacle and the lid of the cibo­rium (pyx).

•Dis­in­fect micro­phones after use.

•Priests, min­is­ters, and con­gre­gants must not share any objects in the church, sac­risty, etc.

During Mass

•Priests, dea­cons and other min­is­ters must always main­tain social dis­tance, being espe­cially careful during pro­ces­sions, read­ings and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

•Re­frain from con­gre­ga­tional singing for the time being. If pos­sible, a cantor or small socially dis­tanced choir may sing on behalf of the con­gre­ga­tion. If nec­es­sary, organ music can replace singing.

•Do not use shared song­books, prayer cards or Scripture reading texts. Use dis­pos­able wor­ship aids that should not be shared.

•If a reader is accom­pa­nied by another min­ister, they must keep socially dis­tanced from one another.

•Those who stand at the ambo (readers, preachers, those who announce prayer inten­tions) must not touch the micro­phone. Handheld micro­phones should not be used.

•There is no offer­tory pro­ces­sion. Bread, wine, water and ves­sels are pre­pared in advance at the cre­dence table.

•Do­na­tions are not col­lected during Mass but are received before or after the Mass to pre­vent infec­tion.

•The altar is pre­pared by a single person, a lay min­ister (server), deacon, con­cel­e­brant or the prin­cipal cel­e­brant.

•Place the cibo­rium (pyx) with bread on the altar with the lid closed. After pouring wine into the chalice, imme­di­ately cover it with a pall.

•At the greeting of peace, avoid touching each other. Each person should put their hands together and bow to one other.

•Be­fore Communion, the priest, other min­is­ters of Holy Communion, and the con­gre­ga­tion once again dis­in­fect their hands

•In a con­cel­e­bra­tion, a sep­a­rate chalice from the prin­cipal cel­e­brant’s is pre­pared for the con­cel­e­brants, who then receive by intinc­tion.

•An elderly priest or one with an under­lying med­ical con­di­tion who pre­sides over Mass alone may not dis­tribute the Eucharist, but must leave it to a deacon, other priest or extraor­di­nary min­ister of the Eucharist.

•Main­tain social dis­tance in the Communion pro­ces­sion. Adjust the width of the aisle and mark dis­tances if pos­sible. Guide the pro­ces­sion to pro­ceed smoothly so that those who have already received and those who will receive do not cross paths.

•Priests and min­is­ters who dis­tribute the Eucharist must dis­in­fect their hands before dis­tributing the Sacrament. If phys­ical con­tact with another person occurs while con­fer­ring the Eucharist, dis­in­fect the hand imme­di­ately.

•Do not offer Communion from the cup to con­gre­gants.

•Those receiving Communion should be asked to stand and receive the Eucharist by hand. They should answer 「Amen」 before removing their mask, and imme­di­ately put on the mask after receiving.

•It is also pos­sible for the con­gre­ga­tion to respond 「Amen」 together before the dis­tri­bu­tion of Communion and then to receive silently.

•Pu­rifi­ca­tion of the prin­cipal cel­e­brant’s ves­sels is done by the priest him­self. Purification of other ves­sels is left to either a deacon or another priest.

•Main­tain social dis­tance during the reces­sional.

•Im­me­di­ately after Mass, dis­pose of used printed matter and clean and dis­in­fect the church.

•If appro­priate social dis­tancing is pos­sible Mass may be cel­e­brated out­doors.

For those who cannot par­tic­i­pate in the Mass in person

•Watch Masses streamed online if pos­sible.

•Read and med­i­tate on the Scripture read­ings of the day.

2. Guidelines for Sacraments of Initiation

•The cer­e­mony should be short, with a small number of par­tic­i­pants.

•During the rite, the sign of the cross should not be made while touching the fore­head of the one being bap­tized.

•Anointing with the Oil of Catechumens should be done using an oil-soaked cotton swab or cotton ball without directly touching the skin of the one to be bap­tized. When there are sev­eral bap­tisms, sep­a­rate swabs or cotton balls must be used for each one.

•Ide­ally, bap­tism takes place during Mass in a com­mu­nity with ade­quate infec­tion con­trol.

•To avoid the risk of infec­tion, it is advis­able to per­form a single sep­a­rate Mass for each family or person.

•Avoid using a bap­tismal font if there are sev­eral bap­tisms.

•Wear masks as directed in the Mass guide­lines above.

•Par­ents should hold a child being bap­tized, with god­par­ents and other family mem­bers main­taining suf­fi­cient social dis­tance.

•Read­ings and hom­i­lies should be short.

•When blessing the bap­tismal water, the priest must not touch the water or the bap­tismal font. He makes a sign of the cross without touching the water.

•Con­fer­ring the bap­tismal robe may be omitted. A white gar­ment pro­vided by the family may be used, but a gar­ment may not be used for more than one person.

•The passing on of the bap­tismal candle may be omitted.

•An oiled cotton swab or cotton wool must be used when anointing to pre­vent the priest from touching the bap­tized with his fin­gers. When there are sev­eral bap­tisms, sep­a­rate swabs or cotton balls must be used for each one.

3. Guidelines for Weddings

•It the wed­ding takes place during Mass, the guide­lines for Masses must be fol­lowed.

•At­ten­dees must main­tain suf­fi­cient social dis­tance. Be espe­cially careful when elderly people or people with under­lying med­ical con­di­tions are pre­sent.

•At­ten­dance should be lim­ited to as few people as pos­sible.

•The priest must keep social dis­tance from the bride and groom.

•Masks must be worn in accord with Mass guide­lines.

•Re­frain from con­gre­ga­tional singing. To pre­vent infec­tion a cantor may sing at a suf­fi­cient social dis­tance. Singing may be replaced with organ music if nec­es­sary.

•The priest must main­tain a social dis­tance from the bride and groom during the vows. If pos­sible, a micro­phone should be used so as not to speak loudly.

•The bride and groom may hold hands with each other while exchanging their mar­riage vows.

•During the exchange of rings, priests and wit­nesses must not touch the wed­ding rings. The priest must be espe­cially careful when blessing the rings.

•Mar­riage cer­tifi­cates may be signed after rather than during the cer­e­mony. Everyone who signs must dis­in­fect their hands before­hand and keep a social dis­tance from each other when signing. Prepare enough writing instru­ments for each signer to use a dif­ferent one.

•During the nup­tial blessing, the bride and groom join hands and bow their heads. The blessing should be invoked with the cel­e­brant’s hands held over the bride and groom without touching them, as usual.

4. Guidelines for Confessions

•Times for the sacra­ment of Penance should be announced in advance.

•The number of con­fes­sions per day should be lim­ited to lessen the risk of infec­tion.

•Avoid using con­fes­sionals. If it is unavoid­able, put a trans­parent film on the grid or hang a cur­tain.

•When­ever pos­sible, it is desir­able to cel­e­brate the sacra­ment in an open place such as the church.

•Both priest and pen­i­tent must wear masks.

•When the priest and the pen­i­tent face each other, they must keep a suf­fi­cient social dis­tance and there should be a glass or acrylic plate between them. If such a plate cannot be installed, the priest and the pen­i­tent should avoid facing each other, for example sit­ting at a right angle to one another to pre­vent infec­tion by aerosol droplets.

•To pre­vent infec­tion between pen­i­tents care­fully dis­in­fect places such as chairs and kneelers that are touched by var­ious people.

•The sacra­ment of for­give­ness may be cel­e­brated out­doors, but a suf­fi­cient social dis­tance between the priest and pen­i­tent must be main­tained and atten­tion paid to the hygiene of the place.

5. Guidelines for Visiting the Sick and the Anointing of the Sick

•Care must be taken during home visits, including wearing masks, dis­in­fecting hands and main­taining ade­quate social dis­tance to pre­vent infec­tion between the priest and those in the house.

•When vis­iting a med­ical insti­tu­tion, follow any pre­scribed instruc­tions and pay close atten­tion when moving from room to room. The same applies when vis­iting facil­i­ties for the elderly.

•The priest should wash his hands thor­oughly or dis­in­fect them before entering a sick­room. During the ritual, the priest must keep a social dis­tance from the sick person and avoid phys­ical con­tact, praying with hands stretched out over the sick person.

•Anointing should take place with a cotton swab or cotton ball soaked in the Oil of the Sick before­hand so that the priest does not touch the sick person directly.

•Priests, dea­cons and lay min­is­ters who visit homes and sick­rooms to dis­tribute com­mu­nion should pre­pare their own clean pyx. Before touching the taber­nacle, they must care­fully wash or dis­in­fect their hands. Once the Eucharist is placed in the pyx or other con­tainer, the lid should not be opened again until the Eucharist is admin­is­tered. If nec­es­sary, the door and key of the taber­nacle should be dis­in­fected.

•Any texts must be printed on dis­pos­able paper and dis­carded imme­di­ately after use. Shared ritual books, prayer books, or hym­nals may not be used.

•Clean (dis­in­fect) the pyx with a mild deter­gent after each use and dry it well.

6. Guidelines for Wakes and Funerals

•Follow the guide­lines for Masses as a basic pre­cau­tion to pre­vent mutual infec­tion.

•At­ten­dees should main­tain social dis­tance from each other.

•Dis­in­fec­tant alcohol should be pre­pared in a place that is easy for everyone to use.

•Avoid sharing writing instru­ments as much as pos­sible. When sharing, use a dis­in­fected one each time.

•If there are mul­tiple funerals in a single day, allow suf­fi­cient time between cer­e­monies.

•Priests and min­is­ters must dis­in­fect their hands before and after the cer­e­mony and avoid phys­ical con­tact with mourners and cas­kets.

•Be­reaved fam­i­lies and atten­dees should avoid phys­ical con­tact such as shaking hands and hug­ging. If mourners are from a country or ethnic group that has a habit of giving such greet­ings, they should be given appro­priate guid­ance.

•Shared wor­ship aids may not be used. Instead, use dis­pos­able printed matter. Printed mate­rials must not be shared.

•At­ten­dees should refrain from singing. Cantors may sing at a suf­fi­cient dis­tance to pre­vent infec­tion. Organ music may be used if nec­es­sary.

•In­cense may be omitted as it can induce coughing that increases the risk of infec­tion.

•At cre­ma­toria and ceme­teries, comply with their rules.

Note: These “Guide­lines for the Catholic Church in Japan for dealing with infec­tious dis­eases” and Appendix 1: “Guide­lines for sacra­ments and litur­gical prac­tices during infec­tious dis­ease epi­demics” were pre­pared under the super­vi­sion of the Japan Catholic Medical Association and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan Committee for the Liturgy.

Appendix 2

GUIDELINES FOR PUBLIC INFORMATION REGARDING INFECTIOUS DISEASES

Appropriate infor­ma­tion sources

•Cre­dence should only be given to infor­ma­tion from trust­worthy pro­fes­sionals such as public sector announce­ments, the Japan Catholic Medical Association, doc­tors, and Catholics in the med­ical field. Do not be fooled by rumors.

Disclosure of infor­ma­tion

•Ap­pro­pri­ately dis­tin­guish between 「infor­ma­tion to be dis­closed」 and 「infor­ma­tion not to be dis­closed.」 Publication does not mean full dis­clo­sure. For example, par­tic­ular atten­tion must be paid to the pro­tec­tion of per­sonal anonymity.

•It is nec­es­sary to dis­close infor­ma­tion when a new infec­tion case occurs in church activ­i­ties. However, if a parish­ioner con­tracts a new type of infec­tious dis­ease in daily life or social life out­side the church, it is not nec­es­sary to pub­li­cize it.

•Such announce­ments should be posted on an offi­cial web­site. When the number of infected people is large or when clus­ters occur in mul­tiple parishes, press releases and press con­fer­ences for var­ious media should be con­sid­ered. (A cluster is five or more cases.

•An­nounce­ments of infec­tions must be done inside and out­side the church at the same time. Avoid sit­u­a­tions where “in­siders” (priests, parish­ioners) learn for the first time from an out­side source.

•A spokesperson must also respond to the dis­sem­i­na­tion of rumors and fake news. In responding to the Internet or social media, the spokesperson must take a strict stance, requesting dele­tion from the oper­ator or dis­clo­sure of the IP address. This might involve securing legal counsel.

Note: This Appendix 2 was devel­oped based on 新型コロナウイルスに関する危機管理広報初動マニュアル(crisis man­age­ment public rela­tions ini­tial manual for the new coro­n­avirus) pub­lished by Inoue Public Relations Co., Ltd., super­vised by Professor Kuniyoshi Shirai of The Graduate School of Information & Communication, 2020).

メモ

1 Pope Francis, Stretch Forth Your Hand to the Poor, Message for the Fourth World Day of the Poor, November 15, 2020, 8.

2 Ibid., 6.

3 Serving a Wounded World in Interreligious Solidarity: A Christian Call to Reflection and Action During COVID-19 and Beyond, a co-publication of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the World Council of Churches, pp.4-5.

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