After California relaxed public health restrictions on churches on Monday, the nation’s largest diocese announced its plan on Tuesday to resume public Masses.
In a two-step plan for parishes to reopen and offer the sacraments, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on Tuesday provided a checklist for each parish to observe. The state’s dioceses and archdioceses have all curtailed public Masses since March, but starting June 3 the archdiocese will allow for public Masses.
While Governor Gavin Newsom’s four-step reopening plan for the state had initially placed churches in stage 3 of reopening, that of “higher-risk workplaces,” on Monday the state announced that churches could begin reopening subject to county restrictions. The state is currently in stage 2 of Newsom’s reopening plan, where manufacturing and some retail businesses have been allowed to reopen.
Now, California has allowed churches to open at 25% capacity with a maximum of 100 people.
The state’s Catholic Conference called the new state guidelines “positive, constructive and fundamentally in alignment” with the diocesan reopening plans, and expressed gratitude for being “a part of the consultation.”
Individual dioceses and archdioceses would make the decisions on reopening parishes in consultation with local authorities, the conference said.
“We look forward to collaborating even further with Governor Newsom and our county leaders in the coming weeks to make social distancing the determining criterion for attendance for public worship so that our communities can undertake a pattern of worship that is both sustainable and safe,” their statement read.
For the archdiocese of Los Angeles, “Step 1” of its reopening plan for parishes allows for silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and individual confessions heard upon request inside a church, with social distancing measures in place.
Churches must be deep cleaned before reopening and cleaned again after each use, and volunteers should be present to open the doors, keep count of the number of those inside the church, usher the faithful to designated seating, and help clean the church.
Parishes can “advance” to Step 2 of the archdiocese’s plan starting June 3, when public Masses, sacraments of initiation, scheduled confessions, and weddings, funerals and quinceañeras can resume. Choirs at Masses will be replaced by a cantor and accompanist, and Holy Communion can be received in the hand only.
For infant baptisms, “[t]he use of the Oil of Catechumens and the ‘Ephphatha’ rite are to be omitted,” the archdiocesan guidelines state….
The above comes from a May 27 story on Catholic News Agency.