Coronavirus & Catholic Church — Let’s Be Safe, but Let’s Get People to the Sacraments

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There’s a new document from Catholic doctors at some top-ranking institutions offering guidelines to Catholic bishops on how to get people to Mass. From a piece by Pablo Kay in Angelus magazine, which includes interviews with some of the doctors involved:

A blue-ribbon panel of Catholic doctors from some of the nation’s top research hospitals and universities says churches should be able to reopen “as safely as other essential services,” after being shut down for more than two months due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a document published on the Catholic Medical Association website and sent out to the nation’s bishops last week, the seven-member panel offered a “road map” for the nation’s churches, including guidance on how to hear confessions and resume public celebrations of the Eucharist.

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“I believe that churches can be just as safe, if not at times safer than so-called ‘essential businesses,’ provided they take the precautions that are recommended in this document,” said Dr. Anushree Shirali, a nephrologist at the Yale University School of Medicine who has been treating coronavirus dialysis patients since the pandemic broke out in March.

In interviews, the doctors emphasized that churches should be regarded as essential partners in rebuilding society in the wake of the pandemic, and said there are reasons to believe churches can do an even better job protecting people than other institutions in society.

“If you should have best practices for a grocery store and for a Home Depot, why can’t you have best practices for church services?” said Dr. Andrew Wang, an immunobiologist who is helping to guide clinical research into the virus at Yale.

“I just can’t see for any clear scientific reason why preparing food for a thousand people in a restaurant is any safer than people going to Mass,” he added.

In their road map, the doctors recommend that Mass be celebrated using social distancing measures with congregants wearing masks and that parishes should be cleaned thoroughly between services. Singing should be avoided, they say, and Communion should be received in the hand, with younger priests or ministers preferred in distributing Communion.

The sacrament of confession, the doctors recommended, “should follow safe social distancing practices and be carried out in a well-ventilated area, outdoors, or in the main church” with both priest and penitent wearing masks and with an “impermeable physical barrier” between them.

While the doctors who spoke to Angelus insisted that churches could be opened as safely as businesses and retail outfits and restaurants, they also argued that the Church’s sacraments and ministry are vitally important as American society seeks a return to some semblance of normalcy.

Krogstad said the medical dangers of COVID-19 are real, but so are the psychological consequences of “stress and anxiety” caused by the shutdown of the economy and uncertainty about the future.

Wang agreed: “Especially now as people are experiencing a lot of anxiety, and psychiatric issues arising from being isolated, it’s important that the community of the Church is there for them, that the fortification we get from participating in the sacraments is available, so that the Church can help in this global crisis as it has in all the other global crises before this one.”

Shirali described the consensus among the doctors as: “Yes, we understand and we absolutely agree that the sacraments need to be open again, but it needs to be done in a matter that’s safest for everybody.”

Read the whole piece here. And if you are a Catholic and sacraments haven’t resumed yet in your diocese, maybe send this along to your bishop with an assurance of your prayers for his prudence and courage. And may it be an encouragement to minister safely ecumenically. People need God.


Read the Original Article Here

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