Bishop’s Memoranda to Clergy Concerning Resumption of Public Worship in a Time of Pandemic

On May 14, 2020, and again on May 21, 2020, Bishop Matano issued the Memoranda linked below to diocesan clergy to assist them in developing precise protocols for the safe re-opening of our churches for public Masses and other liturgical ceremonies as guidelines from state and local officials evolve through the Coronavirus pandemic. The Bishop’s Office will continue to update parishes and the faithful as needed.

Over the past weeks, the Diocese of Rochester, together with the New York State Catholic Conference and other dioceses in the state, has been, and continues to be in conversation with local and state officials seeking realistic numbers of the faithful who may be present and where and when churches and houses of worship are included in the four-phase New York Forward plan.  Additionally, plans have been submitted showing that all recommended and necessary precautions can be taken for the Sacraments to be offered validly in modified forms for the welfare of our people.  However, it also was made clear that adaptations can only be made to a certain extent lest they detract from the sanctity and transcendent nature of the Church’s Sacraments, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where bread and wine become the very body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, our doctrine of transubstantiation.  Thus, any protocols set forth for the safety of all attending must avoid trivializing the Mass or the Church’s rituals, or even calling into question the validity of the Sacraments.

It is Bishop Matano’s fervent prayer that the Sacraments will soon be able to be celebrated with a reasonable number of faithful present, always mindful of our genuine concern that the People of God may receive the Sacraments, and that the necessary safety precautions are in place for the protection of all.