Additional Guidelines and Provisions from the Archbishop of Vrhbosna during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Additional instructions and provisions have been received from the Archdiocese of Vrhbosna about the proclaimed pandemic of the corona virus which we are bringing you in whole.

Dear Brothers Parish priests and Parish Managers!

Dear brothers and sisters!

Due to the accelerated changes in the situation of the coronavirus, and bearing in mind the new measures brought by the Federal Civil Protection Headquarters on March 17th, 2020, which “orders the cancellation of all public meetings in the Federation of BiH, in accordance with the regulations on public gathering”, and with decisions of other state and cantonal authorities, medical services and institutions in mind, I consider it my shepherd’s duty and responsibility to instruct you, with the already published Instructions and Provisions of Diocesan Bishops for the Conduct in the situation of Coronavirus Pandemic, these additional provisions are to be followed - until further notice - in the entire Archdiocese of Vrhbosna:

Provisions for Holy Masses:

1. According to the rules of church law, the Diocesan bishop may, whenever he believes that it is conducive to their spiritual good, forgive to the believer the obligation to attend Sunday Mass (can. 87 §1, can. 1 245). Therefore, believers who, because of this situation in their conscience, consider themselves unable to attend mass, may satisfy the duty of participating in Sunday Holy Mass by following the same on radio, television, or the Internet, and by receiving spiritual communion as a path of union with Christ and connection with the faith community in church. Also, may they devote themselves to prayer, fasting, good deeds, and reading the Word of God.

2. Our churches remain open because they play a particularly important role for the prayer and spiritual encouragement of believers. Keep the Holy Masses - and Sunday Holy Masses - silent, without the people, and in concelebrated masses it is recommended that priests should do communion with the dipping and the leading priest should do communion last on both occasions.

3. Blessed water at the entrance of the churches and chapels should not be used. At the same time, keep churches and chapels regularly ventilated and cleaned, keeping their doors open as much as possible so that believers do not have to touch them on entry / exit, and preferably put a hand sanitizer on the entrance.

Confession provisions:

4. Because of the order to cancel all public meetings, joint preparations and confessions should not be held before Easter. But, if one of the believers asks for individual confession, especially the sick, keep the priest available with strict respect to the instructions for protection against infection.

5. Confessions are not to be done in confessionals, but in sacristies or other rooms, with the obligation that the distance between the priest and the person being confessed be at least one meter.

 Other provisions:

 6. All diocesan and parish pastoral and catechetical programs, meetings, activities and other events should be postponed.

7. The sharing of other sacraments and sacramental should be done with strict compliance with the instructions for protection against infection, especially in the case of sick people and children.

8. Let church funerals be performed only with loved ones and without the funeral Mass that may be done after the expiration of these measures.

Let believers know about these additional provisions, which can also be hung on notice boards and post on parish websites where they exist. In doing so, let the believers be taught the nature and meaning of the above instructions, which shall take effect from today, March 18th 2020., and shall be valid until revoked or until new measures are issued. They should also be encouraged to pray more earnestly, especially for the sick and health professionals, as well as for civic and religious responsibility, patience, caution and the application of these and other measures.

To all the priests, monks, nuns, laymen, and people of good will, I call on God’s blessing and place you under the mighty intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Health of the sick, pray for us!

Cardinal Vinko Puljić,

Archbishop of Vrhbosna