Howard County, Maryland, has reversed a policy that banned consumption of any food or drink during religious services, effectively preventing the licit celebration of Mass.
A county spokesman told CNA May 28 the prohibition will be removed, and faith leaders will be consulted on future guidelines for church reopenings amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball issued an executive order delineating reopening regulations and conditions for houses of worship and other entities deemed “non-essential” by the state of Maryland.
“There shall be no consumption of food or beverage of any kind before, during, or after religious services, including food or beverage that would typically be consumed as part of a religious service,” that order said.
The executive order was due to go into effect May 29.
On Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Baltimore said it had “serious concerns” about the policy, and that the “Eucharist is central to the faith lives of Catholics.”
The consumption of the consecrated species at Mass, at least by the celebrant, is an integral part of the Eucharistic rite. Rules prohibiting even the celebrating priest from receiving the Eucharist would ban the licit celebration of Mass by any priest.
After CNA reported on Wednesday about the terms of Howard County’s executive order, and the archdiocese responded, the policy was reversed.
“As we move closer to a full Phase 1 Reopening, we will be lifting food consumption restrictions for faith institutions. We are currently working through the next wave of policy changes and are continually analyzing the criteria for re-opening and the need for temporary restrictions,” Howard County spokesperson Scott Peterson told CNA May 28.
“Now that Governor Hogan announced a modified reopening of restaurants yesterday, Howard County is revisiting all food consumption restrictions,” Peterson added.
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