4 March 2020

My dear Brothers and Sisters

As you would be aware, the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is presenting many serious challenges to people, authorities and Governments around the world, including here in Australia. It is therefore beholden on me as Bishop of Townsville to act in the best interests of our Mass going population to ensure that we are all playing our part in supporting the health and safety of parishioners and people of the region.

Our other Agencies such as Townsville Catholic Education Office, Centacare, Mary MacKillop Childcare Service and Saints Catholic College have met with me today to plan a coordinated response across the Diocese. Communication from these entities will be forthcoming. In terms of parishes, clergy and lay faithful however, I issue the following directives effective immediately:

- In those parishes (schools) where Communion is distributed under both kinds, the practice of distributing the precious blood will cease except for the celebrant only.

- Given that one of the easiest ways to transmit a virus is by the transmission of saliva, Communion will be received only in the hand.

- Holy water should be removed from stoops at the doors of Churches.

- Clergy and parishioners should not touch each other by shaking hands at the kiss of peace. A nod or a smile is appropriate with the words “Peace be with you”.

- All ministers of Holy Communion (both ordinary and extraordinary) are to wash their hands with soap and hot water before distribution of Holy Communion commences.

- People who are sick with flu like symptoms are to stay at home and not come to Mass until their sickness passes.

I will be monitoring the situation on a daily basis and please God we can return to our usual practices when the threat is judged to be non-existent or low. Of course, ongoing vigilance is essential, threat or no threat.

We pray for the victims of this virus around the world (Australia included). May we play our part in doing what we can to stop the spread of COVID-19. I present these directives after communications with other Bishops including a local doctor who is a Director of the Public Health Unit, and other advisers. Similar directives have already been issued around the world.

Thank you in anticipation of your understanding and cooperation.

Bishop of Townsville
Back to List

More News


Bishop Tim writes to congratulate Queensland Members of Parliament

Catholic Bishop writes to congratulate Queensland Members of Parliament With the Queensland Electoral Commission declaring all Queensland Parliamentary seats within the Townsville Diocese recently, Catholic Bishop of Townsville, Most Rev Tim Harris has written...

Read Full Article

Bishop draws further attention to those made vulnerable by VAD

Bishop draws further attention to those made vulnerable by VAD  Bishop Tim Harris believes the concerns many indigenous people hold over Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) have been overlooked and underestimated and should further delay its legislation. Speak...

Read Full Article

Catholic bishops call for new solidarity in election statement

Catholic bishops call for new solidarity in election statement Queensland’s Catholic bishops believe the state must discover “a new kind of solidarity” to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 and to find a way beyond the pandemic.  The bish...

Read Full Article

Catholic leaders publish report on Church governance

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have today published an “important and substantial” document on the review of diocesan and parish governance and management in Australia. The review was recommended by the ...

Read Full Article

A word of encouragement to the Catholic cPeople of Australia from the Bishops of Australia

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE CATHOLIC PEOPLE OF AUSTRALIA FROM THE BISHOPS OF AUSTRALIA Dear brothers and sisters, Grace and peace to you in these Easter days. We write to you from a plenary meeting of the Bishops Conference which is like no other...

Read Full Article

First Assembly of Plenary Council postponed

FIRST ASSEMBLY OF PLENARY COUNCIL POSTPONED In response to the dramatic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the bishops of Australia have made the “difficult, but necessary” decision to postpone the first assembly of the Plenary Council. Chang...

Read Full Article

Pastoral letter to the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of Townsville

Pastoral letter to the Clergy and Faithful of the Diocese of Townsville regarding the latest instructions in response to COVID-19 Pandemic   Dear Friends Peace be with you.  At this time of world crisis all of us are going to miss gathering as commun...

Read Full Article

Special Dispensation due to COVID-19

Dear People of the Diocese of Townsville I communicate once again concerning the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19.  Directives have already been put in place and I trust all parishes, in particular, are implementing the temporary liturgical changes and other...

Read Full Article
More Links in this section