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Bishop Ignacy Dec of Swidnica, Poland, anoints the sick of his diocese at a service last month. (Father Miroslaw Benedyk/EWTN Polska)

In three West Coast dioceses that are dealing with substantial outbreaks of the pandemic, policies have been instituted to address a situation with little precedent.

By Joseph O’Brien, National Catholic Register, 3/19/20


Register correspondent Joseph O’Brien writes from Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.

SEATTLE — There are currently more than 9,400 confirmed coronavirus cases and 150 deaths from the disease reported in the U.S. — and those involved in the liturgical life of the Catholic Church in U.S. dioceses see the need for prayers and the sacraments now more than ever, as a part of what the Church can offer during these troubling times.

Although the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has interrupted individual lives and sundered the social fabric of the country, the Catholic Church must still take into account some elements of everyday life, including sickness and death — which, no matter how desperate times are, happen regardless and still require a Catholic response.

Thus, while public gatherings, including the public celebration of the Mass, have been canceled around the country, Church leaders know that prayers for the dead must continue, either during funeral Masses or at graveside committal services.

Likewise, even as government and health officials are strongly encouraging “social distancing” among individuals, priests must still attend on a personal level to the sick and dying by administering the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.  ….

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