Priests in Santa Fe, New Mexico, have allegedly been threatened with suspension from preaching during Mass if they presented homilies longer than five minutes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Damian Thompson, associate editor of The Spectator and presenter of the publication’s Holy Smoke religion podcast, first highlighted the allegation in a tweet Monday, with what appears to be a partial screenshot from a document with the name of Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s vicar general, the Very Rev. Glenn Jones, attached.
“I got this from a good source but it’s so ridiculous that could it be a hoax? @ASFOfficial needless to say aren’t taking calls. Which if it’s a hoax is massively stupid because @ABJohnCWester’s reputation is on the line,” Thompson noted.
The Christian Post reached out to Rev. Jones’ office for comment Thursday and was directed to the archdiocese’s communications office which did not immediately respond to questions about the document.
The directive outlined in the document warned priests of the repercussion should they continuing scaring away parishioners with homilies longer than five minutes.
“We’ve received reports of some homilies going on for well over the 5-minute limit set by the Archbishop; this not only increases exposure time to others, but increases the discomfiture of many congregants, to the point of some not attending Mass because of it,” the warning began. “If such long homilies continue, the AB will consider severer actions for subject clergy, up to and including possible suspension of the faculty to preach.”
Instructions from a May 14 document published on the archdiocese’s website encouraged “only very brief homilies” of no longer than three minutes among a list of precautions developed by the Archbishop of Santa Fe for the early lifting of the suspension of publicly-attended Mass.
“Use shortest liturgical forms (penitential rite, recitation of Mass parts, provided shorter readings, 2nd Eucharistic prayer, etc.) if available for the day, and only very brief homilies (3 minutes max). Decreased time = decreased contamination. The goal is 30-40 minutes for the Mass to minimize exposure/contamination,” the document noted.
Other precautions included requiring face masks for children 3 years and older, banning congregational singing, and the changing of baptism water after each use. Churches were also encouraged not to have any “open holy water” and to remove hymnals and other worship aids.
“It is of utmost importance to remember that the Church values everyone’s safety and well-being. Life is sacred and we will continue to take every precaution to protect our community from COVID-19. As the crisis continues to impact our world at an alarming rate, it is more imperative than ever we heed the advice of our global scientists and public health experts,” Archbishop John C. Wester noted in a statement announcing the directives. “I encourage people of goodwill to stay the course, wear your mask, practice social distancing. Together, we can save lives.”