March 17, 2020 update: Archbishop Smith tested negative for the coronavirus, after placing himself in isolation on March 12 due to exhibiting signs of a “slight cold.” Grandin Media reported the negative test result for Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith via a Twitter message on its page yesterday. A later statement from the archdiocese said that Smith never felt “seriously ill,” but took the measure to self-quarantine out of an “abundance of caution” on the advice of medical professionals.
Grandin Media is reporting that Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith is in self-quarantine at his residence after he was advised to do so by medical professionals. He is being tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Smith was advised to cancel all his engagements until he receives his test results, meaning celebrations of the Sacrament of Confirmation and other public ministries in the archdiocese of Edmonton will not be conducted for the foreseeable future.
The Grandin Media report notes that Smith says he does not feel “seriously ill” at this point and that he is “eager to return to public ministry.”
On March 11, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith released new “preventive measures wherever Mass is celebrated” guidelines for the archdiocese, which do not call for a ban on receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. The guidelines call for a “dedicated line” to be had for those wishing to receive the host on the tongue.
“Experts in public health have advised there is no greater risk of infection in receiving the host on the tongue than there is in receiving in the hand,” says Smith’s coronavirus directives.
“Communicants are free to receive either way. However, for people’s greater peace of mind, priests should offer a dedicated line for communicants who prefer to receive on the tongue.”
Smith’s guidelines follow similar ones issued by Bishop William T. McGrattan of the Diocese of Calgary, Alberta, which have placed a temporary ban of the sign of peace, and ordered all holy water fonts emptied. The guidelines also say that until further notice, there will be no public distribution of the consecrated wine as part of Holy Communion.
These directives come at a time when the Province of Alberta’s chief medical officer has asked Albertans to cancel all large events over 250 people and to not travel to international destinations. The ban on gatherings does not include churches or other places of worship but extends only to large sports events, community events as well as conferences. For the time being, public schools in Alberta remain open.
All over the world, many churches and other places of worship have been closed due to Coronavirus fears.
In Canada, Bishops in Quebec have announced that all Saturday and Sunday masses have been cancelled until further notice. Churches, however, will remain open.
Alberta has 23 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of March 12, with Canada’s total standing at just over 100.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for Coronavirus.
Fr. Anthony Pillari recently told LifeSiteNews that times of crisis serve as a “great spiritual opportunity” for those with faith to help those who do not believe and feel hopeless.