With all the supposed “support” for opening things up and, somehow, getting the economy started again, the Bishops of Georgia have responded with some sound advice:
“Knowing how much Catholics everywhere are yearning to return to the Eucharist and to gather once again in our churches, we must communicate that, having struggled with our decision, we believe that we must yet maintain the current practice of sheltering in place. With input and support from the priests of both the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah (Cathedral of St. John the Baptist pictured), we are, for the safety of all Georgia residents, not authorizing the return to congregating at churches or making our churches available for devotions. This determination extends through the month of May. If the sheltering-in-place and social distancing guidelines are altered significantly during this time, we will reexamine the possibility of congregating at churches.
We took many factors into account in coming to this conclusion. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has been updating data daily and providing guidance on when next steps might be safe. Their current report on Georgia indicates that waiting until June to shift social distancing strategies would be the best course of action.
The dispensation from Saturday or Sunday Mass attendance is, of course, still applicable, although Catholics are expected to avail themselves of the virtual Mass each week.
Preserving the bonds of parish life is particularly important, even as we see evidence of the strengthening of family worship and devotion in our homes. Parishes are reaching out to the elderly and homebound, which we heartily endorse. Providing encouragement, especially in light of the protracted absence from normal activities, is a proper work of mercy.
This is an unprecedented time in history, and we hardly imagined a time when we would have to weigh our Church’s spiritual progress against the brute necessities of general health and survival. But, we live in the reality of Easter, and even now we rejoice in the goodness of God and the saving grace of the Risen Lord. May the ever-new and ever-wondrous Paraclete, the Spirit of all truth, sustain us in hope and keep us united in the profession of our Catholic belief.”
Let us pray.
Come, Holy Spirit, guide our leaders called to serve us in public office. May they respond to the challenges of this affliction with prudence and sound judgement. With foresight, may their planning and care alleviate present burdens, compensate for losses, protect employment, and ensure ample food for the poor and isolated.
Come, Holy Spirit, enlighten the minds of women and men of medical science who are working to find a solution to this viral infection. Guide their research and help them discover what you provide in creation, sure ways of control, protection, inoculation and healing. Strengthen them in their tiring work and enrich in them the virtue of hope.
Come, Holy Spirit, bless all who care for the sick: give them patience, give them your protection, give them strength and consolation, and bring them your hope.
Spirit of all Truth, give us all humble and honest hearts to discern the greater mystery of your providence in creation. May we rely on your redeeming mercy. Amen.