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Regulations Issued by the Croatian Conference of Bishops to Limit the Spread of COVID-19

Zagreb (IKA)

Cognizant of the present challenging circumstances, as shareholders of the responsibility for the health and lives of the faithful and other citizens, and in compliance with the most recent measures by the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Ministry of Health, we, the bishops of the Croatian Conference of Bishops, hereby adopt provisional measures that shall enter into effect on Friday, March 20, 2020, and remain in effect pending a different decision.

  1. In order to prevent the spread of the disease COVID-19 and safeguard the health of the population, all Holy Masses, celebrations of the sacraments, sacramentals, popular devotions, parish celebrations, other events and all meetings shall be cancelled until further notice, both inside closed areas and outdoors.

  2. Priests shall celebrate the Holy Mass without the participation of the community and, in compliance with the provisions of the Roman Missal, shall use the form of the Order of the Mass without a Congregation. At the same time, they shall fervently persevere in the prayer of the Breviary and deliberation, offering supplications for the people of God and for the whole world.

  3. Until further notice, the diocesan bishops exempt the faithful in Croatia from the obligation of participation in Sunday Masses and Masses on holy days. The faithful shall replace this obligation with prayer, fasting, good works, reading of the Word of God, prayerful participation in broadcasts of the Eucharist and other celebrations via radio, television and other electronic media. May they be particularly united during the broadcast of the Eucharist by the receiving of Spiritual Communion.

  4. The faithful, especially children, young people and families, shall be provided access to catechetical and other spiritual contents via electronic media. According to the directives issued by the diocesan bishops, this shall be provided by catechetical offices and other bodies and services that assist pastors in their pastoral activities.

  5. For the duration of the epidemic, churches shall only be open under the following conditions: a) churches shall only be open for personal prayer by believers in good health who are free of symptoms of acute lung disease; b) a maximum of ten persons may be present in a church at one time, maintaining a distance of a minimum of two meters from each other; c) a church open to believers must have a door constantly open, with hygienic measures taken and daily cleaning.

  6. The celebration of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick shall not be celebrated until further notice, except when death is imminent.

  7. The conducting of Christian funerals shall only be permitted with strict compliance to the health and safety directives of the relevant state institutions. The deceased shall have a funeral and be buried in the presence of their next of kin, and Masses for the deceased shall be celebrated after these measures are lifted.

  8. Hospital chaplains and priests who provide pastoral ministry in nursing homes and other similar institutions shall follow the directives of the aforementioned institutions for the prevention of contagion.

  9. Arch/diocesan, parish and other Church offices and Church archives shall remain closed until further notice. The faithful shall contact the aforementioned institutions exclusively via telephone or e-mail.

  10. Catholic kindergartens, schools and other educational and charitable institutions shall follow the directives of the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Croatia.

  11. In Church establishments where several people live, such as rectories, religious houses and seminaries, egress and contacts with outside visitors shall be restricted.

Priests and other pastoral ministers shall publish these directives via parish magazines, bulletin boards or websites.

We remind the faithful that it is our Christian duty to bear witness to solidarity and do everything to prevent the spread of the virus. Despite this trial, let us transform this crisis into an opportunity to rejoice in hope, endure in affliction and persevere in prayer (cf. Rom 12:12).

May prayer, fasting and acts of love remain the hallmarks of this Lenten period, and may prayer for the health and blessing of our nation and other Croatian citizens in this challenging time persevere.

In prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the health of the sick, we greet you in the Lord.

The bishops of the Croatian Conference of Bishops

Zagreb, March 19, 2020