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Italian churches prepare to have funerals again, but public Masses are still banned


For eight weeks, the bereaved were prohibited from gathering together to mourn.

As the number of daily deaths and cases of coronavirus continues to fall in Italy, the Catholic Church is preparing to resume the practice of public funerals.

Starting on May 4, after an eight-week ban, Italian families will be able to gather for funeral Masses and burial ceremonies, according to a report by the Catholic News Agency (CNA).

In the Lombardy region of Italy, where 13,679 have died of the coronavirus, mourners have had to forgo funerals for their loved ones. Priests in Milan are expecting to receive a wave of requests from that region for funeral services.

Fr. Mario Antonelli, of the Archdiocese of Milan, told CNA, “I am moved, thinking of so many dear people who have wanted [a funeral] and still desire one.”

Social distancing measures will be required at the funerals, and no more than 15 people will be able to attend.

Public Masses will still be prohibited under Italy’s May 4 coronavirus restrictions. Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced on April 26 that stores, museums and libraries would reopen on May 18, and restaurants, bars and hair salons on June 1. There is no timetable for the resumption of Catholic Masses.

The Italian bishops have been critical of the continued ban on Catholic Masses.

In an April 23 letter, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia, the president of the Italian bishops’ conference, wrote that “the time has come to resume the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist, and church funerals, baptisms and all the other sacraments, naturally following those measures necessary to guarantee security in the presence of more people in public places,” reported the CNA.

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