In the state of emergency declared due to the appearance of coronavirus in Hungary and driven by our responsibility towards the ones committed to our care, the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference enacts the following measures valid until revoked unless the competent diocesan bishop disposes otherwise:
1. Since churches are of special importance as a place of spiritual recovery and prayer, we do not close them. However, we should act responsibly and carefully; therefore public liturgies will be suspended in our churches from 22 March 2020, the 4th Sunday of Lent. The only exceptions are funerals, which shall be conducted in a simple and brief manner.
2. We ask our brothers in priesthood to keep celebrating the Holy Mass in our churches or in suitable chapels to testify that the celebration of the Eucharist is the “centre of the Church's life” as described by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1343). The already registered Holy Mass intentions may be performed sine populo or may be transferred in line with the provisions of the Code of Canon Law (CIC Can. 1309). We encourage the members of our Church to engage in the holy act from home to reflect that “the whole Church is united with the offering and intercession of Christ” (CCC 1369).
3. According to the provisions of the Code of Canon Law, the diocesan bishop, whenever he judges necessary, may grant a dispensation from the obligation of attending a Holy Mass on Sunday (CIC Can. 87 §1.; Can. 1245). The ordinaries of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference grant this dispensation in order to avoid contagion.
4. The provisions of the Catechism (CCC 2183) and of the Code of Canon Law (CIC Can. 1248 §2.) remain in effect in this special situation. These stipulate that if participation in the Eucharistic celebration becomes impossible for a grave cause, it is specially recommended that the faithful engage in prayer – by reading the Bible, praying the liturgy of the hours or any other prayer – for an appropriate amount of time personally or in a family. Several places broadcast Holy Masses online. Public TV channels broadcast Holy Masses on Sunday and on feast days to provide support, comfort and encouragement for those who cannot participate in person. We will inform you about these broadcasts.
5. We shall follow state epidemic protocols while caring for the sick, hearing confessions and administering extraordinary communion. Due to the extraordinary situation – effective immediately until revoked – absolution may be imparted in a general manner (CIC Can. 961–963).
6. We shall follow state provisions in our educational, social and health care institutions at all times. We shall always cooperate with the authorities and comply with the general guidelines provided by them.
7. We encourage parish and monastic communities to organize continuous prayer for those affected by the epidemic, while adhering to the provisions of public health authorities.
This instruction concerns the Latin rite dioceses of Hungary.
This epidemic highlights our vulnerability and the fact that we should protect ourselves and others. Let us strengthen our trust in God and in each other with our prayer and example. Let us be generous and pay special attention to our sick and elderly brothers and sisters now. We respectfully ask our elderly brothers in priesthood to especially protect their health in this situation.
Budapest, 17 March 2020
Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference