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Catholic Church issues directives for reopening

Public Sunday Masses are scheduled to resume the weekend of May 23-24, and the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, released directives for that to happen in West Virginia.

The directives respect Catholic liturgical and pastoral principles as well as the guidance given by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and Gov. Jim Justice’s recommendations.

  • A parish plan must be approved by the bishop prior to May 23.
  • The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass will remain in effect until further notice.

Anyone who is sick or more susceptible to infection — the elderly, those already in frail health — are urged to remain at home and participate in televised or online Masses.

Anyone who fears being infected by attending Mass should stay home.

  • Social distancing will be required. Those who live in the same household may sit together; otherwise, there must be six feet of separation between persons. Once the reduced seating capacity of a church is reached, no others may enter.
  • Congregants are to wear masks during, except in the moment of receiving Holy Communion. If at all possible, they should bring their own masks.
  • Some common though optional practices of a Catholic Mass will be omitted, including the use of hymnals, holding hands at the Our Father, the Sign of Peace, the offering of the Precious Blood of Christ to the congregation.
  • In churches with multiple Masses, the church (and hall or gym, if used) will have to be sanitized between Masses, as well as before the first Mass and after the last.

For the complete list: