Bishop Anthony B. Taylor issued a letter to parishioners in the Diocese of Little Rock late May 4 regarding the resumption of public Masses by May 16-17. All restrictions that were put in place March 1-15 will go back into effect, such as no distribution of the Precious Blood to the congregation. Additional precautions have been added, including wearing masks during Mass, restricting the church capacity to 25 percent of the seating and maintaining at least 6 feet distance between families.
The bishop also provided a six-page list of guidelines and options parishes can consider to allow for as many worshippers is safe to minister at one time.
Public Masses and nonessential gatherings were halted by Bishop Taylor March 16 to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
His letter reads:
“Today Gov. Hutchinson issued guidance regarding the resumption of public worship on a limited basis in Arkansas. While this is welcome news, the Mass brings with it special challenges regarding the distribution of the Eucharist, which requires direct contact with the recipients. In order to benefit from this partial reopening of public worship, I authorize the resumption of the public celebration of the Mass starting the weekend of May 16-17, or earlier if your parish is ready.
“I have prepared a more extensive document listing other requirements with which parishes must comply in order to proceed, plus options pastors might consider in applying these directives to the specific realities of his parish, for instance regarding how to restrict attendance to just 25 percent of the building capacity, which might include having more, shorter Masses, celebrating Sunday Mass every day of the week and the transmission of the Mass via CCTV to other buildings with reception of Communion.
“Please pray that this initial loosening of restrictions may be successful and that conditions will soon allow us to return to ever greater participation in the sacramental life of the Church.”
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