Bishop Anthony B. Taylor announced May 9 changes in COVID-19 precautions beginning with weekend Masses May 15-16.
In a separate letter to priests, Bishop Taylor said distancing of family groups during Mass and changes made in churches and on parish property since March 2020 will be left to each pastor to decide. He said Communion under both forms would not resume at this time.
His May 9 letter reads, “Now that most Arkansans over the age of 16 have access to a coronavirus vaccination, I have sought the advice of the Presbyteral Council and the Diocesan Pastoral Council regarding next steps, and so today I am pleased to promulgate two things. First, a further loosening of the anti-COVID-19 protocols that for over a year have prevented an outbreak of disease in any of our parishes and second, I would like to invite everyone to come to the Barton Coliseum for the ordination of five new priests for the Diocese of Little Rock at 10 a.m., Saturday, May 29. This will be a special time to thank the Lord for bringing us through this pandemic so far and for providing us these new priests as we look to the future.
“I believe that due to the universal availability of the vaccine, we can now make mask-wearing optional, effective next weekend, May 15-16. This gives vaccine-hesitant people one more week to at least get their first shot. In addition, Communion on the tongue during Mass is now allowed. I do recommend, but do not require, continued mask-wearing for those who are not yet fully vaccinated or who are otherwise especially vulnerable.
“Also, I encourage all Arkansas Catholics to come to the ordinations at the Barton Coliseum on May 29. This will be an unforgettable experience. The Barton Coliseum holds 10,000 people, so there will be plenty of room for people to spread out.”
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