Press Room

Corona Virus General (pastoral) update march 24, 2020 3:00pm (download PDF here)

Spanish Translation

March 24, 2020
Office of the Bishop                                 
Diocese of Santa Rosa
P.O. Box 1297
Santa Rosa, California  95402

THE SOLICITUDE OF THE CHURCH DURING THESE TIMES OF TRIAL:

The Lord has not abandoned us!

First of all, I commend all the faithful for any efforts made to assure some electronic connection with your Church or local parish. I trust that many of you participated in broadcast Masses from your Churches or Chapels and that these provided some spiritual solace.

The necessary and prudent measures enacted by government officials to prevent and slow infection rates during this current pandemic come with a great many sacrifices. As in all areas of life, these measures also affect the Church in her mission of caring for souls. You, the faithful have been overwhelmingly understanding in adapting to the restrictions of public gatherings and the temporary cessation of public Masses. The attendance at ‘virtual’ Eucharistic celebrations and participating in spiritual communion assures an ongoing spiritual connection.

Another crucial aspect of the spiritual life is the forgiveness of sins, which is ordinarily accomplished through individual and integral confession to a priest followed by individual absolution. The current pandemic and the measures taken to combat it make this very difficult. Therefore, instructions have been issued by the Holy See (Apostolic Penitentiary) regarding methods of providing spiritual care.

Since we, in California, are operating under a stay at home policy it would be, in my view, imprudent to set up or attempt to offer the availability of individual confession even with the utilization of various protective measures. Further, the availability of suitable ‘protective masks’ and the proper use of such masks is more challenging than simply putting them on and taking them off.

The Holy See offers this in regard to the Sacrament of Confession for all the faithful:

“Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness and accompanied by the will or firm desire to confess, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1452).”

The teaching of the Church is that all sins can be forgiven by way of an Act of Perfect Contrition. Such an Act requires:

1. the love of God above all things

2. the sincere desire for forgiveness

3. the ardent commitment to receive the sacrament of reconciliation when available.

 

Using this information, the faithful can be assured that the mercy of Christ has not abandoned you in a time of particular need. No one will be held accountable by God for sins for which one is truly sorry and which would have been confessed, had the opportunity been present. Thus, in the present circumstances, and even without sacramental confession, the solace of the Church is offered for any who have fears or anxieties about the need for confession. Individually, or in conjunction with a virtual prayer service the faithful, by your own Act of Perfect Contrition, can receive an assurance of the forgiveness of your sins. Remember this applies when Sacramental Confession is not possible and does not, in any way, diminish the ultimate need for Sacramental Confession. The one point, which is often lost is that the person’s will to confess must be genuine and must be acted upon (with regard to mortal sins) when the present threat passes.

Pastors can lead the faithful in, or the faithful by yourselves may make, an examination of conscience and be assured in faith that your own sorrow, under the present circumstances, is sufficient to assure you of God’s mercy.

The Holy See has also recently reminded us that the Church teaching about Indulgences is still active and alive in the Church.

Thus, for those who may want the priest to come and anoint in “danger of death” the Holy See reminds us:

“The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to Divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).

Since most people are very familiar with the Rosary the following, taken from the Enchiridion of Indulgences, should be noted:

A Plenary Indulgence is granted, if the Rosary is recited in a church or public oratory or in a family group, a religious community or pious association …. . Now the Rosary is a certain formula of prayer, which is made up of fifteen decades of 'Hail Marys' with an 'Our Father' before each decade, and in which the recitation of each decade is accompanied by pious meditation on a particular mystery of our Redemption. The name 'Rosary,' however, is commonly used in reference to only a third (that is, five decades only) of the fifteen decades. The gaining of the plenary indulgence is regulated by the following norms:

1. The recitation of five decades of the Rosary suffices; but the five decades must be recited continuously.

2. The vocal recitation MUST be accompanied by pious meditation on the mysteries.

3. Sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father's intentions, when this becomes possible.

 

Special Instructions have been issued to those priests engaged in hospital ministry in regard to additional pastoral actions which may be used in accordance with directives from the Holy See for forgiveness of sins and the granting of Plenary Indulgences.


LA SOLEDAD DE LA IGLESIA EN ESTOS TIEMPOS DE PRUEBA:

EL SENOR NO NOS HA ABANDONADO!

Primero que nada, quiero felicitar a todos los fieles, por cada esfuerzo que han hecho para mantener las conexiones con su Iglesia atreves de los medios de comunicación. Yo confío en que muchos de ustedes han participado de las misas en sus Iglesias o capillas locales atreves del internet, y que esto a su vez les ha traído un poco de consuelo espiritual.

 Las medidas necesarias y prudentes promulgadas por oficiales del gobierno para prevenir y bajar el número de infectados por esta pandemia han traído muchos sacrificios. Como en todas las áreas de la vida, estas medidas de seguridad también han afectado a la Iglesia en su misión del cuidado de las almas. Ustedes, los fieles se han visto abrumados en entender y adaptarse a las restricciones de las reuniones públicas y la cancelación temporaria de las misas. Sin embargo, la asistencia  a la celebración de la Eucaristía “virtual” y la participación de la comunión espiritual asegura una conexión espiritual.

Otro aspecto crucial en la vida espiritual es el perdón de los pecados, el cual ordinariamente es completado atreves de una confesión integra e individual con un sacerdote seguida por una absolución individual. La pandemia actual y las medidas de prevención actuales han hecho de la confesión algo difícil. Por lo tanto,  la Santa Sede (Penitenciaría Apostólica) ha emitido instrucciones con respecto a los métodos para proporcionar un cuidado espiritual.

Desde que nosotros, en California, estamos operando bajo una restricción de quedarnos en casa, la póliza sería, en mi punto de vista, imprudente establecer o intentar ofrecer la disponibilidad de confesiones individuales incluso utilizando diversas medidas de prevención. Además de la disponibilidad de las “mascaras protectoras” y el uso adecuado de dichas mascaras es más complejo que fácil el ponerlas y quitarlas.

La Santa Sede ofrece lo siguiente con lo que respecta al Sacramento de la Confesión para los fieles:

Cuando brota del amor de Dios amado por sobre todas las cosas, la contrición se llama contrición perfecta (contrición de caridad). Semejante contrición perdona las faltas veniales; obtiene también el perdón de los pecados mortales, si comprende la firme resolución de recurrir tan pronto como sea posible a la confesión sacramental (cf Concilio de Trento: DS 1677).”

La enseñanza de la Iglesia es que todos los pecados pueden ser perdonados atraves de un Acto de Contrición Perfecta, que requiere:

1.     Amar a Dios sobre todas las cosas

2.     El deseo sincero de ser perdonado

3.     El compromiso ardiente de recibir el sacramento de reconciliación en cuanto esté disponible.

Usando esta información, los fieles pueden estar seguros de que la misericordia de Cristo no los abandonara en momentos de prueba o cuando más lo necesites.  Dios no tomara en cuenta los pecados que se hayan cometido si realmente estas arrepentido y los has confesado, en cuanto tuviese la oportunidad. Así, en las circunstancias presentes, e incluso sin el sacramento de la confesión, el consuelo de la Iglesia se ofrece a cualquiera que pueda estar sufriendo miedo o ansiedad por la necesidad de la confesión. Individualmente o en conjunto con un servicio virtual de oración los fieles, por su propio Acto de Contrición Perfecta, pueden recibir el perdón de sus pecados. Recuerden que esto aplica cuando el Sacramento de la Confesión no está disponible, y de ninguna manera se puede obtener el Sacramento de la confesión. El único punto, que a menudo se pierde es que la voluntad de la persona de confesar debe de ser geniuna y tiene que acudir a confesarse una vez que la amenaza  actual haya pasado.

Los sacerdotes pueden guiar a los fieles en este acto, o los mismos fieles por si solos pueden hacer un acto de conciencia y estar seguros  que con su fe, sus pecados, bajo estas circunstancias, la misericordia de Dios no nos abandona.

La Santa Sede también nos recuerda que la Iglesia nos ensena que las indulgencias todavía estas activas y vivas dentro de nuestra Iglesia.

De esta manera, aquellos que quieran que un sacerdote les de la unción a aquellos en “peligro de muerte”, la Santa Sede nos recuerda:

“La Iglesia reza por los que estén imposibilitados de recibir el sacramento de la Unción de los enfermos y el Viático, encomendando a todos y cada uno de ellos a la Divina Misericordia en virtud de la comunión de los santos y concede a los fieles la Indulgencia plenaria en punto de muerte siempre que estén debidamente dispuestos y hayan rezado durante su vida algunas oraciones (en este caso la Iglesia suple a las tres condiciones habituales requeridas). Para obtener esta indulgencia se recomienda el uso del crucifijo o de la cruz (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, n.12).”

Ya que la mayoría de nosotros estamos familiarizados con el rezo del santo Rosario, lo siguiente, tomado de Enchiridion de las  Indulgencias, debe de tomarse en cuenta:

Se les concede la Indulgencia Plenaria, si el rezo el Santo /rosario es rezado en la Iglesia, o en publico, o dentro de una familia, comunidad religiosa o asociación piadosa…. . Ahora el Rosario es ciertamente una formula de oración, compuesta de quince decenas  de Ave Marias con un pPadre Nuestro antes de cada decena, acompañado por una piadosa meditacionen un misterio particular de nuestra Redención.  El nombre de “Rosario" es comunmente designado solo en referencia a una tercera parte del mismo (esto es solo cinco decenas) de las quince. Para ganar indulgencia plenaria es necesarioseguir las siguientes normas:

1.     La recitacion de cinco decenas continuas (communmente conocido como Rosario).

2.     Tiene que ser recitado verbalmente y NECESITA contener una meditacion piadosa de los misterios.

3.     Confesarse sacramentalmente, recibir la comunion y orar por las intenciones del Santo Padre.

Instrucciones especiales han sido dadas a los sacerdotes que estan envueltos en el cuidado pastoral de los hospitales pese a las acciones adicionales pastorales ejercidas en acuerdo a las directivas de la Santa Sede para el perdon de los pecados y la obtencion de Indulgencias plenarias.

(download pdf of Spanish Translation)


Corona Virus General Update March 17th 4:00pm (download PDF here)

Memo to All Pastors, Parochial Administrators, Parochial Vicars, Deacons and the People of God:

         These are very challenging and troubling times which call for prayer, patience and great prudence. While recognizing that the faithful rely greatly upon the spiritual solace which weekly and daily Mass provide, the present threats to the physical health and wellbeing of entire communities require measures in the Church comparable and even greater than those taken by civil authorities. Being deprived, even temporarily, of the spiritual consolations of Mass and Holy Communion is a great cross. Yet, this does not mean being deprived of Christ, His love or His attentiveness to us. Sacrificing even Holy Mass and Communion for the sake of the health and safety of the entire community entails great suffering and distress. Yet, such a sacrifice must be made in the present circumstances.

         As a Church we have many concerns. One of our concerns is the health and safety of our priests and our vulnerable brethren. The priests are very willing to put themselves in harm’s way but by doing so may become sources of infection for others. Thus, generosity becomes a risk for them and for others. Pastoral workers are urged to be extremely cautious and prudent about going to places where there is an increased risk of being infected or of inadvertently infecting others.

         After hearing from pastors as well as medical professionals, I have determined that it is both prudent and necessary to cancel all Church related Masses and services until the threat of further infection with the Corona Virus is ended. This means that all weekend and weekday Masses are to be cancelled with the exception of the one ‘Private’ Mass offered by the priest each day without a congregation. Many weekday Masses are attended by more than 50 people and many more who could not avail themselves for Mass on Sunday may deem that it is “safe” to attend Mass on another day. Since this would most likely result in larger crowds, the threat of infection would be heightened, not lessened, by continuing daily Masses. Again, the only Mass should be the ‘private’ Mass of the priests in the parish without a congregation.

         Sadly, funerals are also prohibited. Memorial Masses scheduled later are an alternative.

         The provisions above apply equally to any Confirmation plans or schedules. Confirmations through May 10 are indefinitely postponed. All other Confirmation dates for this season are now Tentative.

         Please pray for an end of this Pandemic and for safety for all Medical Professionals, Pastoral Workers and First Responders. There is need for an abundance of caution. All that we do going forward must be out of concern for the well-being, both spiritual and physical, of our people and of the entire community.

                                                                                       

                                                                                    Robert F. Vasa
                                                                                    Bishop of the Diocese of Santa Rosa
Spanish Translation:
(download PDF)

 

Nota para todos los pastores, administradores parroquiales, vicarios parroquiales, diáconos y el pueblo de Dios:

 Estos son tiempos muy desafiantes y problemáticos que requieren oración, paciencia y gran prudencia.  Si bien reconocen que los fieles dependen en gran medida del consuelo espiritual que proporciona la Misa semanal y diaria, las amenazas actuales para la salud física y el bienestar de comunidades enteras requieren medidas en la Iglesia comparables e incluso mayores que las tomadas por las autoridades civiles.  Ser privado, incluso temporalmente, de los consuelos espirituales de la Misa y la Sagrada Comunión es una gran cruz.  Sin embargo, esto no significa estar privado de Cristo, de su amor o de su atención hacia nosotros.  Sacrificar incluso la Santa Misa y la Comunión por el bien de la salud y la seguridad de toda la comunidad conlleva un gran sufrimiento y angustia.  Sin embargo, tal sacrificio debe hacerse en las circunstancias actuales.

 Como Iglesia tenemos muchas preocupaciones.  Una de nuestras preocupaciones es la salud y la seguridad de nuestros sacerdotes y nuestros hermanos y hermanas vulnerables.  Los sacerdotes están muy dispuestos a ponerse en peligro, pero al hacerlo pueden convertirse en fuentes de infección para otros.  Por lo tanto, la generosidad se convierte en un riesgo para ellos y para los demás.  Se insta a los trabajadores pastorales a ser extremadamente cautelosos y prudentes al ir a lugares donde existe un mayor riesgo de ser infectado o de infectar inadvertidamente a otros.

 Después de escuchar a pastores y profesionales médicos, he determinado que es prudente y necesario cancelar todas las Misas y servicios relacionados con la Iglesia hasta que finalice la amenaza de una mayor infección con el Virus Corona.  Esto significa que todas las Misas de fin de semana y días laborables deben cancelarse con la excepción de la Misa "Privada" ofrecida por el sacerdote cada día sin una congregación.  Muchas misas de lunes a viernes asisten a más de 50 personas y muchas más que no pudieron asistir a la misa del domingo pueden considerar que es "seguro" asistir a la misa otro día.  Dado que esto probablemente resultaría en multitudes más grandes, la amenaza de infección aumentaría, no se reduciría, al continuar las Misas diarias.  Nuevamente, la única Misa debería ser la Misa "privada" de los sacerdotes en la parroquia sin una congregación.

 Lamentablemente, los funerales también están prohibidos.  Las misas conmemorativas programadas más tarde son una alternativa.

 Las disposiciones anteriores se aplican por igual a cualquier plan u horario de Confirmación.  Las confirmaciones hasta el 10 de mayo se posponen indefinidamente.  Todas las demás fechas de confirmación para esta temporada son ahora provisionales.

 Ore por el fin de esta pandemia y por la seguridad de todos los profesionales médicos, trabajadores pastorales y socorristas.  Se necesita mucha precaución.  Todo lo que hagamos en el futuro debe estar preocupado por el bienestar, tanto espiritual como físico, de nuestra gente y de toda la comunidad.

Obispo de la diócesis de Santa Rosa
DE BISHOP VASA


 


UPDATE MARCH 13, 12:00
Pleaseread and share with fellow parishioners!
(download pdf)

 

Diocese of Santa Rosa Response to the Coronavirus

NOTE: Adapted from the response issued by the Diocese of Orange

 

In response to the current crisis surrounding the Coronavirus, we acknowledge the legitimacy of fears and the need to exercise an abundance of caution in order to minimize the risk of infection and to save lives. At the same time, we recognize the need to exercise our faith and to act in a way consistent with calm attentiveness to prudence, public health and prayer.

 

The recommendation that non-essential gatherings of more than 250 persons be restricted has been heard and while the Bishops recognize the threat of infection, we also recognize the need and desire for the faithful to maintain, without undue risk, an ability to pray and worship, especially on Sunday.

 

We can and must acknowledge the scientific facts surrounding the spread of the Coronavirus, including the importance of thorough washing of hands, “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” by restricting the rate and extent of the spread of the virus. These measures not only protect us they protect our neighbors and especially those who are most vulnerable. Thus, we ought not take actions that put others at risk unnecessarily. There are many ways to see to help during this time as we seek to care for our neighbors: Checking in on elderly neighbors even if by phone or from a distance, offering help with groceries or childcare for dear ones who might struggle with increased burdens.

 

With the above in mind, all pastors/administrators and directors are to take note of and ensure that the following be implemented:

1.     Until further notice, the Diocesan Bishop hereby dispenses from the obligation to attend in Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation (cf. canons 85, 87 §1, 90 §1 and 1247 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law) for all the faithful of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. Those faithful who wish to avoid crowded areas, out of legitimate concern for their health and/or the health of others, are encouraged to take advantage of this dispensation. Those faithful who elect this additional precaution should set aside some time on Sunday for prayer or an on-line experience of Holy Mass.

2.     Since the needs of the Church continue even with this dispensation, those who choose not to attend Mass are to keep in mind their duty to continue to assist with financial support of the Church, in accordance with canons 222 §1 and 1261 of the same Code of Canon Law.

3.     Parishes with the ability to live-stream Masses are encouraged to do so.

4.     The church is to be sanitized on a regular basis with even greater care than usual.

5.     Holy water is to be removed from fonts and the baptistery is either to be emptied or covered so that the faithful will not have access to water inside of it.

6.     Masses may be simple, with little or no music and very limited or no homily, in the interest of limiting “exposure” time. Limiting petitions, eliminating, for now, the Offertory Procession, and use of Eucharistic Prayer II are other ways to minimize “exposure” time.

7.     People should be encouraged to physically distance themselves from each other as much as possible, use personal hand sanitizers before coming forward for Holy Communion and limiting hand contact with others, with pews, pew missals or other items frequently touched by others. The practice of ‘stamping’ children’s “attendance records” should be temporarily discontinued.

8.     Some have expressed concern about distributing Holy Communion on the tongue. There are disagreements about whether there is a greater chance to transmit the Coronavirus via inadvertent contact with the tongue. While acknowledging the legitimate desire on the part of some of the faithful to receive on the tongue, in light of the serious risk of transmission, pastors are to instruct the faithful that they are to receive Holy Communion in the hand for now. Moreover, priests might wish to remind the faithful that they are under no obligation to receive Holy Communion every time they attend Mass (cf. canon 920).

9.     Please be mindful of how the collection is carried out, especially as regards the passing of baskets. Other creative methods for taking up the collection might be considered.

10.  In regards to other parish-related events (i.e. Stations of the Cross, Penance Services, Fund-Raisers) pastors/administrators/directors have the authority to cancel them or not. Consultation with local healthcare providers is recommended in making local decisions. No one is to be penalized, however, for not attending religious education classes or even a confirmation retreat (that is to say, one who cannot make a retreat due to its cancelation or his/her concern for health safety would not be denied confirmation for this reason alone). As regards “non-essential” events, please refer to Governor Newsom’s statement dated 11 March 2020 at: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/03/11/california-public-health-experts-mass-gatherings-should-be-postponed-or-canceled-statewide-to-slow-the-spread-of-covid-19/ 

11.  Additional instructions for Holy Week liturgies, if necessary, will be considered and communicated in due course.

12.  Parish schools will follow the lead of public schools. Plans are already in place to provide on-line education in the case of the temporary closure of schools.

In addition to encouraging fasting and prayer, priests should consider using the prayer offered by His Holiness, Pope Francis, during the Wednesday audience held on March 11, 2020:  

O Mary,
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus' pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

 

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God.

Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial,

but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin


Health Concerns Related to Coronavirus

Memo:      To all Pastors and Parochial Administrators
FROM:     Bishop Robert F. Vasa

Re:           Health Concerns related to Coronavirus

Date:        February 28, 2020
                (download PDF here)

 

 In light of the presence of this virus in Solano County, it is prudent to implement more stringent policies in our Parishes regarding hygiene.

A.    Fundamentals that always apply:

  we urge priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins or even using an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion;

  assuring the faithful that if they are sick or are experiencing symptoms of sickness, they are not obliged to attend Mass, and even that out of charity they ought not to attend.

B.    Additional precautionary measures that should be applied:

        The practice of people holding hands during the Our Father with non-family members is to be discouraged;

        the exchange of the sign of peace is to be suspended (or the faithful instructed that it be exchanged without physical contact);

        In the Diocese of Santa Rosa: The distribution of Holy Communion from the Chalice is to be suspended until the danger of the present virus is eliminated.

C.    In the event that the threat becomes dire, as could happen in any of our communities, the Diocese will consider granting a general dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. In cases of an actual major outbreak of the virus it is even conceivable that public celebrations of the liturgy, including Mass could be suspended. The people should be apprised of this possibility.

D.    Any pastor is authorized to grant to any individual who has fears or anxieties, or who is in an otherwise compromised health condition, a dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

E.    Greater care should be taken regarding the sanitation of Holy Water fonts. At a minimum, additional sanitizer pump stations near the fonts is recommended.

F.     Schools need to be especially vigilant regarding the potential presence or spread of this virus in their school communities.

NOTE: Some of these recommendations come from the USCCB.