An Italian bishop has prohibited unvaccinated priests and lay people from distributing Communion as Italy tightens its COVID-19 restrictions.
Bishop Giacomo Cirulli of the southern Italian diocese of Teano-Calvi and Alife-Caiazzo issued a letter on Jan. 8 with new rules to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“I prohibit the distribution of the Eucharist by priests, deacons, religious and lay people who are not vaccinated,” the bishop wrote.
“With regard to vaccines, let me recall what Pope Francis said: ‘Getting vaccinated … is an act of love. And helping to ensure that the majority of people get vaccinated is an act of love. Love for yourself, love for family and friends, love for all peoples,’” he said.
In the letter, Cirulli also issued the suspension of all in-person pastoral, catechetical and formative activities in his diocese.
Cirulli graduated from medical school in Naples before becoming a priest. The 69-year-old bishop was hospitalized with COVID-19 in November 2020 and recovered.
He asked Catholics in his diocese to abide by the COVID-19 restrictions issued by the Italian government.
New Italian government restrictions came into force this week banning unvaccinated citizens from entering restaurants, public transportation, gyms, theaters, and sports events.
“Most of the problems we are facing today are due to the fact that there are unvaccinated people,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at an evening press conference on Jan. 10.
Draghi’s government made it mandatory last October for all employees in Italy to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test before entering the workplace each week.
The Italian government also announced last week that it will impose mandatory vaccination for every person over the age of 50, regardless of employment, starting Feb. 15.
More than 86% of people over the age of 12 in Italy are fully vaccinated, according to health authorities.
Amid the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, there were more than 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Italy each day for the past five days.
By Courtney Mares