BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has dropped all remaining COVID-19 worship mandates, according to a letter from Bishop Michael Duca.

The bishop said that each parish can choose to move at its own pace based on guidance from pastors.

“I now encourage and allow parishes to restore the practice of distributing Communion under both kinds beginning on the first Sunday of Advent if the ministers and congregation are prepared to do so,” Duca said in a letter.

Read the full letter below.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

At the beginning of the pandemic two and a half years ago, as you remember, I created a series of directives for the celebration of the liturgy in our parishes so that we could continue to gather safely to receive the sacraments of the Church.  This past week I sent a letter to the priests and deacons of the diocese confirming,“there are no remaining diocesan mandated COVID precautions in place for worship. I believe it is time, and I request that all our parishes return to a full ministry participation of the laity at Sunday Mass as we had before the COVID protocols were established.”  I asked the pastors to move their parishes forward, now that there are no remaining COVID restrictions, with a sensitivity to the needs and concerns of their parishioners. 

 In order to make a full return to our normal celebration of the liturgy, I also announced to our pastors that, “I now encourage and allow parishes to restore the practice of distributing Communion under both kinds beginning on the first Sunday of Advent, if the ministers and congregation are prepared to do so.”  Restoring this option at this time is still only voluntary, and the First Sunday of Advent is the earliest a parish can begin; however, it is not the required beginning date for all parishes.  Each parish can move at its own pace, under the guidance of its pastor, taking into account the time needed to prepare the lay ministers and the current desires and willingness of the people to receive, once again, from the chalice.  I remind the faithful that while receiving from the chalice is for many a spiritually meaningful experience, it is not necessary to receive the fullness of Christ in Holy Communion.  As always, receiving from the chalice when offered is an optional choice for the individual communicant.

While there may be challenges, I do not think these will be insurmountable. It is my prayer that with this final restriction removed, we will begin to return to what were our spiritual and liturgical traditions before the pandemic.   It may take us a while to accomplish this, but it is my hope to return to offering the chalice at Communion at all our parishes in the future.  May the Holy Spirit inspire and guide us as we move forward.

Bishop Michael G. Duca