Dear Sister and Brothers in Christ,
May God bless you during this holy season of Lent!
This is an anxious time for all of us. I know these days are even more difficult for those of you who are ill or who have family members or friends who are ill or who have died. As Catholics, we take consolation and strength from our rituals and sacraments, many of which are not possible at this time due to the essential social distancing needed to combat this pandemic.
This week, I am writing to hospital chaplains within the Archdiocese of Louisville to provide some guidance on pastoral and sacramental care in contexts that are unprecedented for us. Isolation orders and restrictions on visitors — even clergy — challenge our normal practice of pastoral care for the sick and dying. While the sacraments of the Church can never be celebrated virtually, the tools of technology can be a way to “visit” and offer consolation. In these challenging times, the Church offers some other options.
For example, www.archlou.org/Covid-19 and in The Record, we have shared resources such as an Act of Spiritual Communion, examinations of conscience, and the Act of Perfect Contrition to assist you during this time when the sacraments may not be readily available. Please note information on the web page about an indulgence that the Holy See has granted to those suffering from the disease and those caring for them.
For those who have worries or concerns about their loved one not being able to receive the sacraments, especially Confession and Eucharist, during a time of illness or death, I remind all of us that God is with us always. God’s grace and God’s mercy are always available to us. God knows of our sorrow for our sins, our intentions, and our desire to be united with Him and reconciled with others.
Join me in praying for those who are ill for any reason and for those who have died. Please pray for our healthcare providers who care for the sick and dying and our first responders serving all of us. I thank our priests, deacons, chaplains, and pastoral care ministers who provide pastoral care to the best of their ability in difficult circumstances.
Let us all pray together for the time when we can joyously celebrate the grace of the sacraments. As many have pointed out, we are learning here in our nation what many in the developing world know all too often, the profound loss we feel without the Mass and other sacraments.
God love all of you.
Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop of Louisville