This afternoon, Premier Ford announced that places of worship will be locked down as of 12:01 a.m. Monday, 19 April 2021. In the past when we had such restrictions, it was decided that such a limit of ten people is impossible to be carried out in a fair manner, with the question: who gets invited? The number ten includes the presider.
Therefore, in keeping with the directive of the provincial government and our previous practice, all churches in the Diocese of London will be closed to the public effective Monday with the following exceptions:
1. Masses should be celebrated in the churches to pray for the needs of our people. Where possible, these celebrations may be live-streamed or recorded and up-loaded. One person may participate in the celebration to proclaim the reading(s) and Psalm, along with one instrumentalist and one cantor. Deacons do not assist at these Masses.
2. Baptisms should be discouraged until the lock-down ends, but may be celebrated in danger of death.
3. Celebrations of First Communion are deferred until the lock-down ends.
4. Confessions should be discouraged until the lock-down ends, but may be celebrated if the pastor determines a serious need; to be determined on a case-by-case basis; to be celebrated only by appointment.
5. Confirmations are to be deferred until the lock-down is lifted, but may be celebrated in danger of death.
6. Weddings may proceed with the maximum number of ten people.
7. Funerals may be celebrated with the maximum ten people allowed.
Parish and other diocesan offices are to be closed effective Saturday, 17 April. Staff (clergy and lay) may report to work only for what is essential. Pastors are expected to monitor this. Notice has been that government agents may inspect offices at any time.
Halls may be opened only for essential social and mental health services (e.g., addiction services, blood-donor clinics, child care). Restrictions imposed by the government are to be followed. All sacramental preparation, RCIA and catechetical sessions shall be deferred or moved on-line.
I realize these new restrictions will be a hardship for many, especially as access to the sacraments is once again curtailed. I want to express my gratitude to you for the sacrifices you are making during the pandemic, and also to emphasize that we need to be strong in our commitment to follow all health and safety measures to do our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Through the intercession of our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, may God protect us and keep safe all our health-care workers and those on the front lines who serve us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B.
Bishop of London