Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Florida Catholic staff - Florida Catholic
MIAMI | Archbishop Thomas Wenski has written to archdiocesan priests to ask them to refrain from offering “drive through” palms, confessions or holy Communion or “any similar type of activity” that would encourage people to leave their homes for at least the next two weeks.
The archbishop sent his letter April 1, 2020, the same day that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“These next two weeks, our health professionals tell us will be very critical — with more people becoming infected and more deaths,” Archbishop Wenski wrote. “Because many people who are infected may not have any symptoms, the best way to mitigate risk is to practice social isolation and, if one has symptoms or has possibly been exposed, or has an underlying health problem, to self-quarantine.”
Miami-Dade and Broward counties lead the state in confirmed coronavirus cases, which totaled 6,955 statewide as of April 1, with 890 hospital admissions and 87 deaths. Since March 29, the cases in Florida have grown by over 800 each day. Broward has tallied over 1,200 cases and 12 deaths; Miami-Dade has about 2,200 cases and 7 deaths. Statewide, about 10% of those tested have come back positive for the virus.
“Because of the need for everyone to observe extreme social distance, and to follow civil authorities’ instructions to remain at home as much as possible to mitigate the risks of spreading the virus, it is not prudent for parishes to plan any activity that would encourage people to leave their homes,” the archbishop wrote (emphasis his). “Therefore, parishes are not to offer ‘drive through’ palms, confessions or Holy Communion or any similar type of activity.”
He added that “parishes should still be open to respond to calls from parishioners” and “respond to emergencies,” including visiting the sick in the hospital —if permitted to do so — while taking all needed precautions.
He also urged pastors to continue livestreaming Masses and other liturgical services during Holy Week — as many are already doing — so their parishioners can participate “remotely online or through other social media.”
He also suggested that, on Palm Sunday, parishioners could place a palm frond on their door as “most yards in South Florida have some type of palm in them.”