Public Masses in La Crosse Diocese to be phased back in beginning May 31
Most parishes not ready to resume immediately, Bishop Callahan says
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Public Masses in the La Crosse Diocese will resume gradually beginning on May 31, according to a letter Bishop James Callahan wrote to the faithful.
“As we continue to safeguard human life and the common good in the Diocese of La Crosse, I believe that a slow controlled return to the public celebration of the sacraments is necessary and in our best interest,” Callahan wrote in the letter, dated May 14 and released Thursday night on the diocesan website.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted Catholic bishops and leaders of other denominations to cease public worship, “has required a great sacrifice for the Catholic faithful restricting worship and active participation in the sacramental life of the Diocese of La Crosse and beyond,” Callahan wrote in announcing the gradual reopening of churches.
“I ask the Catholic Community to use extra caution and good judgment in determining if you should attend Mass,” he wrote. “The Sunday Mass dispensation continues for those concerned about the coronavirus threat because of age, health condition or other reasons.”
The dispensation continues for all of the faithful, pending implementation of Mass guidelines on the diocesan website, according to Callahan.
The Wisconsin State Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the extension of Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order on Wednesday “shifts much decision-making regarding COVID-19 safeguards to the county level. It allows me to speak clearly and with a bit more freedom concerning our return to the public celebration of the Holy Mass,” wrote Callahan, who also explained the need for gradual reopenings instead of immediate.
“The simple truth is that in many, if not most, of our parishes, we are not ready to return to the public celebration because we do not have the proper supplies to open with safety. … Simply to open the doors without a structured plan in place hoping that people do the right thing would be irresponsible of us all,” he wrote.
“At this time, and in times I have addressed you in the past, I believe that a slow controlled return to the public celebrations of the sacraments is necessary and in our best interest,” the bishop wrote.
Full text of Bishop William Callahan’s letter.