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SANTA FE, New Mexico, May 20, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – New Mexico’s Archbishop ordered in new “liturgical restriction” guidelines released yesterday that only vaccinated people can sing in church choirs and only priests or laity who have been vaccinated can distribute Holy Communion on the tongue.
“Singing is allowed by choirs only, whose members are to all have been fully vaccinated,” state the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s May 19 guidelines that were promulgated by Archbishop John C. Wester.
Regarding Communion on the tongue, the guidelines state that Catholics may receive Communion in this way as long as the “distributing minister is fully vaccinated.” Another stipulation for Communion on the tongue is that the “distributing minister sanitizes his/her hands prior to and immediately after distribution.”
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s “COVID-19 Response Team” states that the guidelines come “in response” to the state’s May 14 Public Health Order. The Department of Health’s health order deals with the topic of face masks for those who are fully vaccinated and outlines reopening protocols. At no point does the order mention choirs or ministers of Holy Communion.
The bishop’s order also states that “Masks are to continue to be worn by all except celebrants, deacons, lectors, cantors, and choir members while performing their respective vocal liturgical functions.”
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated in a December 2020 guideline that receiving a COVID vaccination “is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
Many Catholics object to the vaccines on account of their connection to the abortion industry in the use of cell lines derived from aborted babies that are used in the manufacture and/or testing of the vaccines. Others object to the experimental nature of the vaccines, pointing out that the vaccines have not been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but have been granted Emergency Use Authorization only.
LifeSite reached out to the Archdiocese’s Vicar General Father Glennon Jones to ask if the guidelines follow the CDF’s directives about the vaccine being voluntary, pointing out that some may see these guidelines as a coercive measure pressuring priests and laity to receive the jab. LifeSite also asked if there are any exceptions to the rules, for instance, allowing pregnant women to sing in the choir who choose not to be vaccinated on account of the experimental nature of the vaccines. LifeSiteNews also asked how the Archdiocese plans to verify people’s vaccine status and what will it do for people who don’t feel comfortable sharing their medical records. No response to these questions was provided by press time.
While the state’s May 14 reopening protocols do allow churches to reopen at 100 percent capacity under certain conditions, the Archdiocese has ordered that “limitations of capacity should remain per the more restrictive guidance.”
“For example, if your county is classified as ‘turquoise,’ church capacity should be restricted to health-recommended 75% rather than the strictly legally allowed 100%,” the guidelines state.
Archbishop Wester, who supports transgenderism and has endorsed Father James Martin’s pro-LGBT book “Building a Bridge,” has previously curbed religious practice in the name of keeping people “safe.” Last month he ordered Catholic churches to continue to restrict capacity even after New Mexico’s governor allowed churches to fully open.
“It is of paramount importance to remember that the Church values everyone's safety and well-being. Life is sacred and we are taking every precaution to protect our people from the coronavirus,” the Archdiocese stated at that time.
Last year, Wester suspended indoor public Mass and regular Confession while keeping his cathedral’s gift shop open for business. He was one of the bishops who last year mandated that Holy Communion be received only in the hand in response to the virus. Also last year, he threatened priests with suspension if their homilies went over five minutes, a time limit that he established so that the faithful inside the churches would not be exposed to others for too long a period.
Contact information for respectful communication:
Archbishop John C. Wester
Archdiocese of Santa Fe
4000 Saint Joseph’s Place NW
Albuquerque, NM 87120