The priests of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, have been warned by their bishop that they could lose the faculty of preaching if they gave homilies longer than five minutes. This restriction is intended to be part of the fight against coronavirus.
In a note sent to the diocesan clergy on July 31, 2020, Vicar General Fr. Glennon Jones says the Chancellery has been notified of “homilies that have exceeded the five-minute limit set by the Archbishop.”
“This increases the faithful’s time of exposure to the coronavirus,” explains the note very seriously, which also invokes “the dismay of many faithful, to the point that some do not attend mass for this reason.”
“If such homilies continue, the Archbishop will consider more severe actions, including suspension of the faculty to preach.”
The grave statement is part of a series of “periodic communications” from the Chancellery on pastoral and sacramental practices to be adopted in Santa Fe during the time of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Since May 16 and 17, the churches of the archdiocese have been authorized to reopen for the public celebration of Mass, in accordance with the first phase of deconfinement decided by the governor, allowing a participation rate set at 10% of the reception capacity of the building concerned.
According to the guidelines published on the Archdiocesan website, various restrictions on the celebration of the liturgy remain in place, including the prohibition against singing by the faithful.
But the Santa Fe clergy must be happy: the length of the homilies, set at five minutes, constitutes a relaxation of the previous guidelines published by Bishop John Wester, which stipulated that the homilies should not exceed “three minutes maximum.”