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“Theologically confusing”: Why a socially distanced Easter is leaving some Catholics adrift

Being unable to properly celebrate Easter is difficult for a denomination that thrives on collective worship

By Caitlin Farrell  

For the first time this year, the Pope is celebrating Mass alone in the Vatican. Photo: Twitter

The Catholic Church, like most institutions, was not prepared for a pandemic. When coronavirus first became a serious concern, many Catholic churches around the world simply replaced the sign of peace handshake during Mass—symbolising respect and community among Catholics—with a nod or bow, and holy water was removed from fonts at the entrance to churches, as it was during the swine flu or SARS epidemics.

However, as government restrictions were enforced—particularly in majority-Catholic countries…

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