Erie Diocese to Require Mass Despite Delta Variant
Tuesday, August 3rd 2021, 9:01 PM EDT
When Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic bishops created plans to fully welcome back parishioners, it seemed like a simple decision. Case totals had plummeted; masks were no longer required.
Then, the delta variant started spreading.
“Honestly, I thought here we go again," said Chancellor Fr. Chris Singer. "We’ve been in a place like this several times during the pandemic, but we understand that we have to be careful and thoughtful and we are still confident that now is the right time to move forward.“
For now, the church is sticking with its plan to require parishioners to come back on August 15th.
But leaders say it's important to realize there are still exceptions to their rules.
“The church has long understood that if attending mass is dangerous to someone in some way, a danger to their well-being or their mental health in some way, that that application does not bind them," Singer said. "They can fulfill that obligation to keep holy the Sabbath in other ways”
Officials say people who are especially at risk or who have anxiety from crowds are welcome to stay home.
“We tell people if you can’t come to mass, make a holy hour to maintain your prayer life, spiritual reading. Not that those are substitutes for the mass, but it’s something that people can do when they can’t come to mass,” said Fr. Brian Vossler of St. George's.
Priests say for now, they're comfortable welcoming back anyone who wants to come, but they're ready to adjust if needed.
“Marking off the pews and the masks and all the different things you have to do to make sure that we’re following the certain protocols. But we’ll do it because that’s what’s important to us,” Vossler said.