Christ Child on straw in a Christmas service © Harald Oppitz (KNA)
A cancellation of the Christmas celebrations in view of the continuing Corona pandemic is currently out of the question for Italy’s bishops. This is the result of a video link from the Italian Bishops’ Conference. But politics plays along?
The final communique released Wednesday said that although Mass celebrations required "special care and caution," this was no reason to be discouraged. In recent months, they said, it has become clear how parishes can celebrate safely and in full compliance with legal requirements. That’s why they are sure to succeed at Christmas.
Christmas mass before Corona curfew
The final declaration announces that concepts would be developed together with the pastors to take into account the different circumstances on the ground. The goal is "a well distributed presence" of the faithful. The many possibilities of the Christmas liturgy offer a great deal of scope for this.
With regard to the Christmas Mass, the bishops recommended a time compatible with the nightly Corona curfew in force in Italy. The government in Rome plans to decide on this in a decree expected Thursday evening.
EU Commission causes confusion
In the run-up to the video conference, voices from the EU Commission in Brussels had caused irritation. These suggested that, for reasons of epidemic protection, Christmas services with large numbers of participants should be dispensed with if possible. Massimo Camisasca, bishop of Reggio Emilia-Guastalla, promptly rejected this. "Europe has no competence to recommend to the churches the suspension of the Christmas Mass," he said Wednesday. The statements from Brussels had him "very surprised".
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Curia expressed a similar opinion. He told the newspaper "Corriere della Sera": "We must not let anyone steal Christmas this year"."If the security regulations are respected, he sees no problem in celebrating Christmas Mass together with the faithful.