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Masks no longer needed in church

Sign of Peace, offertory processions again permitted due to 'low incidence' of coronavirus

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MIAMI | Effective March 1 — and just in time for Lent 2022 — Archbishop Thomas Wenski is lifting both masking and social distancing guidelines for churches in South Florida.

Masks will now be optional for everyone in church, regardless of vaccination status. In addition, offertory processions can now take place during the Mass, along with the Sign of Peace. Social distancing “no longer needs to be enforced in churches.”

The archbishop made the announcement Feb. 28 in a letter emailed to all pastors.

“Given the low incidence of the coronavirus in our community at this time, we are confident that we can ease our protocols,” he wrote.

“However, those distributing Holy Communion (priests, deacons, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) are asked to continue to sanitize their hands and wear a mask during distribution (for the mutual protection of the communicant and the minister of Holy Communion),” the archbishop wrote. “Priests concelebrating should receive the Precious Blood by intinction, and chalice will not be offered to the faithful for the time being.”

“The dispensation from the obligation of participation in Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation remains in effect — again for the time being,” the archbishop wrote.

But those who “feel sick or experience symptoms” should remain home and follow the Mass online.

“Hopefully this comes as good news as we enter the Lenten Season,” the archbishop wrote in an email accompanying the new guidelines. “During Lent we should continue to encourage our people to return to Mass.”

In addition to continuing to pray for the end of the virus “which continues to rage in our parts of our country and the world,” the archbishop asked parishes to offer prayers for peace in Ukraine both on Ash Wednesday and during the Sundays of Lent.

He echoed Pope Francis’ request that Ash Wednesday’s fast and abstinence be offered for “a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict that Russia has brought to the Ukrainian people.” 

Comments from readers

Juan Hernandez - 03/09/2022 09:59 AM
So, is there one guideline for celebrations within the church, another one for Catholic School, and a different way for CCD classes? It is shameful how patiently religious education directors and teachers must argue with unruly parents and rebellious mothers. Where is the peace? Freedom, please, for all.
David Kremer - 03/03/2022 05:58 AM
Thank you so much for doing this. I am excited to return to a more normal and social celebration of the Mass.
Valli Leone - 03/02/2022 10:14 AM
Praise Jesus! And thank you, Archbishop Wenski, for the caring guidance and directives given all along during the past two years. May our Lord continue to bless, heal and keep you safe in your service to his people. I love our Catholic Church’s genuine concern and the tremendous wisdom she has shared throughout this pandemic. Saints and angels, pray for us. Jesus never fails! ✝️⚓️💜
Vittoria Chirighin - 03/01/2022 03:36 PM
Has the mask mandate been lifted for religious education classes for our children due to the updated guidance from the CDC and state Department of Health?