CINCINNATI — The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is welcoming the Catholic faithful back to in-person Masses starting May 25 with new precautions in place to curb the spread of coronavirus.
"I must emphasize that this is not going to be 'a return to normal,'" wrote Archbishop Dennis Schnurr in a letter to the archdiocese Friday. "Health and safety requirements and recommendations must continue to be followed."
These new recommendations include requiring faithful to wear masks, social distancing more than six feet apart and removing hymnals, missalettes, and other materials from the pews.
"Because of social distancing, church capacity will be significantly reduced and the number of people who attend a particular Mass will have to be regulated and limited," the archbishop wrote.
Other requirements include:
- No physical contact at the Our Father or Sign of Peace.
- Discreet use of hand sanitizer by ministers of Holy Communion.
- No Holy Communion from the chalice.
- Discouraging Holy Communion on the tongue.
- Removing water from baptismal and holy water fonts.
- Keeping the gifts of bread and wine from public areas, bringing them directly from the credence table to the altar.
Catholics in Cincinnati remain dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the foreseeable future, and the archbishop recommends that "those who are elderly or vulnerable" should continue to stay home.
"Parishes are asked to try to find ways to safely bring Holy Communion to shut-ins. People who are fearful that they may be putting their health, or the health of their family, at risk should likewise continue to remain at home," the archbishop wrote.
Church leaders decided to suspend in-person Masses in Ohio and Northern Kentucky in mid-March, opting instead to livestream Masses. Parishes are encouraged to continue livestreaming whenever possible.
"I am deeply, deeply grateful to all who have taken these initiatives. I am also grateful for all of you who have maintained spiritual closeness through these and other means and continued to live the Catholic faith in your homes," he wrote.