Brownsville (Texas)— The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville announced Friday they will be reopening churches.
According to a release from Bishop Flores, Catholic churches and mission chapels in the Rio Grande Valley can reopen Monday, 25 following precautions and strict protocols.
“I have made this decision after communication with local civil and health officials, and with close attention to the advisories of state and federal government officials, and after continuous consultation with the deans in the eight deaneries that comprise the Diocese of Brownsville, and with countless others, laity, clergy and religious.” said Bishop Flores.
Bishop Flores added that the elderly, or members of the community that suffer from medical conditions, as well as people that feel sick, should stay home.
“If you do not currently feel safe going out, even to Mass, stay home. The dispensation of the Catholic faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday remains in effect. We will continue to provide livestream broadcasts of parish and diocesan Masses for the benefit of those who should remain home” said Bishop Flores.
Face masks and social distancing will be required for those attending Mass. Parishioners will be required to disinfect their hands as they enter and leave the church.
Occupancy at any Mass will be limited. Occupancy for Mass will be less than 50 percent, said the release.
“I encourage those who can go to Mass to consider going on a weekday to alleviate the pressure on Sunday Mass capacity.”
Bushop Flores says he gave pastors authority to judge if, in their particular parish, they are ready with sufficient supplies and volunteers to open the church for public Masses.
If a particular parish is not ready to implement these protocols, they will not open until they are are.
Mass schedule will readjust to allow volunteers enough time for the work of disinfecting the church after every Mass.
Other particular instructions that was sent to the parishes include:
- If the parish has a chapel for perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, pastors should not resume full operations at this time. The enclosed spaces and the difficulty of frequent disinfecting procedures as people enter and leave involve high risks that should not be undertaken. Adoration and Benediction can take place in the main church, at set times, observing the protocols of distancing and the use of masks and the use disinfecting protocols after the Benediction.
- Confessions should not be heard in enclosed spaces where the six feet of distance cannot be observed.
- Other sacramental rites can be celebrated provided the usual protocols are observed.
- Parish offices can open, but only if the receptionist and secretary or other personnel have the space to practice social distancing and observe regular protocols of disinfecting hands and surfaces frequently. Masks should be used in any area where the public or coworkers are present.
- Small meetings can take place on parish premises, provided the protocols indicated are observed.
There will be special instructions for the reception of Holy Communion.