Archbishop Stephen Brislin
Excerpts from the Archbishop’s letter to the clergy dated 23 September 2020
Dear Bishop, Father, Monsignor, Deacon
Directives for further opening of the Churches under Lockdown Level 1
As you are aware, South Africa Has now moved to Alert level 1 of the lockdown. Much of business and social life is returning to “normal”, and it is important that we take further steps to ensure that our parishes become operational again. Therefore, I request that you take note of the following:
Government Regulations regarding Public Worship for Level 1:
Alert level 1 allows for churches to increase the number of participants at public worship to a maximum of 50% capacity of the Church building up to 250 people indoors. I advise that funerals should not be accommodate more than 30% of the seating capacity, but certainly not more than 100 people. All health and hygiene protocols must be fulfilled.
A second wave of infection of the virus is expected. According to the latest scientific evidence, the virus is not only spread through surfaces and droplets but is also airborne. We have a responsibility to ensure that our parishioners are kept as safe as possible.
Every parish should, by now, have demarcated seating in the Church, as well as demarcated queuing in the aisles and outside, in accordance with the need for social distancing – a minimum of 2 metres in the front, back and on both sides of every person. Each parish should also, by now, and have a Covid-19 Officer and volunteers to help. The approach of the Archdiocese has been to slowly increase the number of parishioners. Going to level 1 is probably the most dangerous time, especially as many people are becoming impatient and complacent.
Increase in number of parishioners at Mass:
• Therefore parishes should calculate the total number of people that can be accommodated in the seating area of the Church, and to permit 30% of that number to attend public worship in order to observe the minimum 2m distance between people; It is recommended that parish priests use their discretion in slowly increasing the numbers to 30% and not to have a sudden and unmanageable increase;
• Those who are over 60, and those with pre-morbidities, are encouraged not to attend public worship for the moment;
• The health and hygiene protocol must continue to be observed – this is a legal obligation and I have contacted the Western Cape Government, who in turn clarified the situation with SAPS.
Reminder of the health and hygiene protocol:
• Masks must be worn throughout by clergy and congregation;
• All must sanitize hands before entering the Church;
• Temperatures must be taken;
• The health questionnaire must be completed;
• Every person must be registered;
• Spatial distancing must be observed inside and outside the Church;
• No singing in the Church; musical instruments may be played and there can be recorded music.
In addition our own protocol:
• In the light of the fact that the virus is now considered to be airborne, there must be maximum ventilation in Church before, during and after services;
• Communion to be received on the hand only, not on the tongue;
• Sign of peace must be in non-contact format, e.g. bowing to each other;
Catechism classes may resume on the following conditions:
• All health protocols to be observed including the health questionnaire, registration and spatial distancing;
• Parents must give their written and signed consent for their children to attend catechism.
• No child should be prejudiced in any way should their parent not give consent.
Covid 19 Alert App
In line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s request, I request you to download the COVID alert South Africa app. The app will alert an individual if they have been in proximity to someone infected by the virus. You can download the COVID Alert South Africa app on your smartphones – from the Playstore if you have an Android phone, and Apple’s App store if you have an iPhone.
May I request you to please share this information among your parishioners and to spread this as widely as possible.
I thank you for the service you render to your parish community and assure you of my prayerful support during these difficult times.
Sincerely in Christ
Archbishop of Cape Town
23 September 2020
8 April 2020 - Warning of a scam using the Archbishop’s name:
It has been brought to our attention of an email that was sent in the name of Archbishop Stephen Brislin (using the email address: email@example.com) requesting for financial assistance. Please note that no such request was made by the Archbishop and should you receive any such email kindly delete it from your inbox.
Notices from the Archdiocese
8th September 2020
Directives for further participation in our worship life
Scientists have predicted an inevitable second surge of infections and any opening up of churches and other points of interaction has to be done with great care. It is particularly important that the registering of persons who attend any Church service be maintained as this helps in tracing people should an infection occur.
who attend, screening, social distancing, hand sanitizing and the wearing of face masks must be observed.
i. Those parishes that have not yet started celebrating the Eucharist are encouraged to start by having six persons attending Mass.
ii. Those parishes that have started with six persons are encouraged to increase the number to fifteen. Once again all the protocols will have to be followed.
Only one child at a time may be baptized per celebration. Care must be taken to have in attendance only one sponsor and the immediate family members of the child being baptised.
The absolute maximum in attendance ought to be fifteen excluding the minister. Where this number can be kept lower it ought to be.
Both the Archbishop and I are available for Confirmations which may be celebrated at this time. Attendance must be limited to Parents and Sponsors. Senior citizens and those with co-morbidities ought to be excluded from the guest list. Live streaming is encouraged. Confirmations may be celebrated on Friday evenings, Saturday evenings and on Sundays.
The protocols already in place for funerals must be adhered to. Numbers must be kept to an absolute minimum and social distancing relative to floor space must be maintained.
Although the State allows for a gathering of fifty persons, our recommendation is that numbers be kept low as funerals generate the most infection possibilities. Services must be kept brief and no singing is to be allowed.
5) Penance and Reconciliation.
We encourage Priests to celebrate this sacrament on an appointment basis at this time. Even though this might not be a gathering in the usual sense of the term, all safety measures such as the registering of persons, wearing of face masks, hand sanitizing and social distancing recommendations must be adhered to.
The best is to defer marriages until it is safe to celebrate the Sacrament with greater freedom and with greater festivity. Where the faithful find that they cannot wait until conditions are more favourable, a marriage may be celebrated with no more that the couple, the witnesses and the immediate family members of the couple in attendance.
It must be borne in mind that the pandemic is by no means over. The more we engage with others, the greater the vigilance we need to exercise. We appeal to the discretion of each Parish Priest and expect that where there is extreme danger, celebrations of Baptisms and Marriages will be deferred until greater safety is assured. We ask the faithful to be charitable in this regard. We also ask that Clergy and Religious model the behaviour change that is necessary to cope with the pandemic. In conclusion, we thank you once again for your patience and willingness to serve.
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town
Tuesday 8 September 2020
Archdiocese of Cape Town
14 August 2020
Archbishop Brislin has approved the second digital edition of the Archdiocesan News during this time of coronavirus. Its focus will again be centered on ministry and experiences during this time of coronavirus and hopefully carry forward the theme of "Together, but in a different way".
He specifically asked that parishioners from a selection of parishes write short articles on what their experience has been during the lockdown – how they have coped and how they have continued to pray and participate in the faith. Could you please select two or three of your parishioners to each write about 200 words on this (in their home language – English, isiXhosa or Afrikaans). It will form a type of "collage" (similar to the previous edition) with contributions collated across a two page spread in the Archdiocesan News.
I am aiming to publish in early September, so will be happy to receive material as soon as your parishioners are able to prepare it, but in order to provide the guide of a deadline do you think it will be possible for them to get something to me before the end of next week? If it is easier for you, it can be sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archdiocese of Cape Town