Howard County, Maryland, has reversed course on a ban on receiving the Eucharist during Masses this weekend as church services resume in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Calvin Ball, the county executive, said Thursday in an update to his executive orders:
Since Governor Hogan announced a modified reopening of restaurants yesterday, Howard County revisited all food consumption restrictions. As Howard County moves closer to a full Phase 1 Reopening, also as of 5:00 p.m. Friday, May 29th, food consumption restrictions will be lifted for faith institutions.
Ball issued an order on Tuesday that stated, “There shall be no consumption of food or beverage of any kind before, during, or after religious services, including food or beverage that would typically be consumed as part of a religious service.”
However, as Catholic News Agency reported, the Archdiocese of Baltimore said it had “serious concerns” about the public health guidance placing a ban on the Eucharist as a condition for churches to hold Masses.
“Such restriction would restrict the distribution of holy Communion, an integral part of a Catholic Mass,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “In fact, if the priest could not consume the Body and Blood of Christ after consecration, it would not be a valid Mass”:
Archbishop William Lori said in a tweeted video message to Catholics of his archdiocese, “Without question, we’ve been apart for way too long, and we are hungry for the nourishment that the Eucharist provides”:
"We have been apart for far too long and we are hungry for nourishment that the Eucharist provides," Archbishop William Lori says in special message to parishioners about the gradual reopening of churches. https://t.co/x9NmNT8sjl
— ArchdioceseBaltimore (@archbalt) May 26, 2020
The archbishop said parishes in some jurisdictions are open this weekend “with limited attendance” for the feast of Pentecost.
Lori cautioned that a “one size fits all” approach to reopening parishes “isn’t possible,” and she referred Catholics to their individual pastors for further guidance.
Mary Ellen Russell, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said, “We are very pleased to hear that Howard County will be lifting their restrictions on faith institutions regarding food consumption.”