Archdiocese of Newark lifts pandemic restrictions on communion from shared chalice

The Archdiocese of Newark lifts pandemic restrictions on communion from shared chalice. (Photo by Annie Williams from Unsplash)

The Catholic Archdiocese of Newark will no longer enforce the pandemic-era ban on receiving communion from a shared chalice, which had been in place for the past three years, on Thursday, April 6.

Afterward, parishes can begin serving the traditional "Blood of Christ" to worshipers during the Eucharist service.

Lifting Pandemic Restrictions 

North Jersey reported that as per the message published on the Newark Archdiocese's Facebook page on Thursday, the revisions were approved by Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, who serves as the archbishop of Newark. 

In response to the pandemic, the diocese encouraged local churches to revive other traditions curtailed due to the epidemic. One such tradition is the use of lay readers during the celebration of the Eucharist.

The Diocese of Newark serves the counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union and is home to approximately 1.3 million worshippers.

Because of the pandemic, all Catholic churches within the archdiocese were shut down in March 2020. They reopened in June 2020 and started providing services like Mass and Communion again then.

Yet, the archbishop decided to keep certain restrictions in place out of concern for the safety of those who shared the chalice while the pandemic was ongoing. 

In April 2020, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recommended that the "precious Blood should not be distributed to the faithful" and that the "faithful should not receive the Eucharist by intinction," which is the practice of dipping Communion wafers in wine during the Eucharist. 

The guidelines specified that only clergy members might receive Communion from the chalice.

Other dioceses in the state have yet to ease their bans. Anthony P. Kearns, Esq., a spokesperson for the Diocese of Metuchen, stated that the decision to distribute the chalice at a church would continue to be left to the pastor's discretion.

During the epidemic, numerous liturgical church ministries were reduced or discontinued. The role of altar servers was replaced with book stands, lay readers were replaced with clergy, and musical components were diminished.

However, the archdiocese requested that churches "revitalize their worship" by rehiring clergy who resigned during the epidemic or installing new ministers where vacancies exist.

Return of In-person Masses

According to, in June 202, nearly all Catholics, including those who are unvaccinated, were expected to return to in-person Masses as New Jersey's bishops lifted their directives allowing parishioners to forgo weekly services during the pandemic.

The heads of the Archdiocese of Newark and the state's other four Catholic dioceses, Camden, Trenton, Metuchen, and Paterson, would no longer provide special COVID-19 exemptions. 

The declaration was also signed by the bishops of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic and the Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Diocese, which have a combined total of approximately 90 parishes in New Jersey and surrounding states.

Some dioceses also removed limits on capacity, social distance, and mask requirements. 

Particular churches also allowed people to shake hands during the sign of peace, return holy water to fonts, and place Communion wafers on people's tongues, all of which have been prohibited in most churches since March 2020.

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