Guidance from the CDWDS is out.
I’ve seen a little fuss here and there on social media about the directive not to move the date of Easter. I don’t have a problem with that order.
One factor is moving Easter off Northern Hemisphere Spring. Rome and other places on half the Earth see the importance. But for Australia, South America, and parts of Africa, Easter is a Fall festival. Once human beings move off this planet, and experience astronomical or seasonal years of varying lengths and conditions, European sensibilities about Easter will reside as a fact of history, not practice.
Just as the virus has struck different nations at different times and intensities, we might expect the all-clear signal to be given at different times. The problem with a post-COVID-19 Easter is the lack of unity across Christendom.
Obviously, not all Christians follow the directive from Rome. Pope Francis may have more ecumenical cred than other recent popes, but when one factors in non-denominational believers across continents, it does seem futile to set Easter 2020 some Sunday this summer, or heaven forbid, in November.
While I get the desire to “do” Easter when we get back, I largely agree that the date can’t change. But I would observe that regardless of where the calendar is when churches repopulate, it will feel like the best Easter in decades. You can’t legislate against that.
I would suggest the issue about the date of Easter is not about “European” sensibilities. It has different Northern Hemispheric roots: the city of Jerusalem, and the Jewish people and their celebration of Pesach. This has been the reference point for the dating of Easter of all historical Christian churches that maintain a celebration of it, not just the churches rooted in the Roman ritual tradition but those with ritual roots in Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Armenia and the Church of the East, most of which are not European in sensibility in the way Western Europeans typically mean that.
Of course, for greater unity among the historical Christian churches about the celebration of Easter, perhaps the simplest solution for Rome would be to suspend use of the Gregorian-reform computus for the calculation of the Easter date, and revert to the computus currently used in the Eastern and Oriental Churches. But that would leave the Easter-observing Protestant denominations in the lurch.
PS for readers wondering about Pesach: The reason that the Jewish celebration of Pesach became more loosely linked to Easter after the AD 4th century is that the current method of interposing intercalary months in the Jewish calendar post-dates the First Council of Nicaea by a generation. The historical root and link remains.
Yes, indeed. “European” is perhaps something of a misnomer, but it is the combination of Eastern and Western European sensibilities (who seem to sideline Middle Eastern considerations), and the Roman resistance to inculturation that underlies much of this. That includes the residual stubbornness about uniting the observance of Easter, which is still, in my mind, a grave scandal to the Gospel.
At some point, Christians, and perhaps especially Roman Catholics, will need to grow up and adapt. I, for one would rejoice if Easter 2021 could be a unified celebration. My realistic hope is some time before I’m dead.
Not sure how realistic that is. The Russian Orthodox Church would not budge an inch on this; it makes Rome look positively loosey-goosey by comparison. But Rome is not the head of the Protestant churches that celebrate Easter, and if Rome moved to Russia’s embrace on this, that would not provide unity. Just a different disunity. Most Protestants are not even aware of the older historical churches in Africa and Asia (as one can tell from the way they conduct missionary efforts on those continents).