BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — The Diocese of Brownsville is taking steps to return to pre-pandemic normal mass, announcing they were relaxing certain COVID-19 restrictions.
Parishioners at catholic masses in the Diocese of Brownsville were sitting in every other pew since churches reopened in 2020, that will no longer be the case.
“Because so many people have been vaccinated and people are taking their precautions,” said Bishop Daniel Flores. “Because of that, the situation has improved, so we’re able to kind of restore the practice of being able to use every pew for the seating of people at Sunday mass.”
Bishop Flores emphasized that while the COVID-19 situation in the Rio Grande Valley has improved, there is still a way to go before mass is fully back to normal.
“We have to recognize that we are not out of this completely. If we were out of this completely then there wouldn’t be any protocols.”
The Diocese of Brownsville will allow all pews to be filled, but they will continue to be cautious with Communion. Parishes will allow parishioners to receive the Eucharist once again on their tongues, but communion stewards will still take precautions.
“We are asking that the priest and the deacons, in the sanctuary, continue to use their face masks. Especially in the sanctuary. And to disinfect regularly as they prepare to celebrate the sacrifice at the altar, and they prepare to give communion.”
Bishop Flores said that sacramental wine will still not be offered during communion for the time being.
Despite relaxing some COVID-19 restrictions, the dispensation from attending mass in person will not be lifted at this time.
“We have a lot of people who want to come to mass, and we want them to take the precautions necessary, but it remains in effect,” said Flores.
Printed materials and hymn books can also return to churches.
However, holy water fonts are to remain empty and the Sign of Peace will continue to be given with a bow and not a handshake.
The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville writes they encourage everyone not vaccinated to wear a mask and for everyone to continue taking precautions. Adding that if they feel sick or not safe, to not expose themselves or others.
“The rule is: think of others before you go to Mass,” read the letter.
The changes go into effect on May 29. To read all the changes click here.