Photo courtesy El Paso Diocese
Under the direction of Bishop Mark Seitz, the Diocese of El Paso will open Phase 3 Protocol for Church Gatherings during the time of Pandemic effective the weekend of September 12-13.
Phase 3 allows parishes inside El Paso County to gather for Sunday Masses up to 25% capacity.
Phase 3 Protocol specifically States:
Churches where disinfection and social distancing norms are strictly followed may also resume gatherings for Sunday Mass at 25%
capacity. Gatherings at 25% capacity for Mass on weekdays, baptisms, Eucharistic exposition for 1–2 hours, and prayer during the day are permitted as well during Phase 3. Funeral Masses, services in funeral homes and weddings remain suspended within Phase 3.
“The Diocese remains vigilant to the spread of the Coronavirus and is asking the faithful to take these precautions during this time of pandemic as well,” Diocesan officials shared via a news release.
Though church gatherings are resuming, some individuals should not attend Mass or other church gatherings at this time. This includes those who are sick and those in the at-risk population: persons who are 65 or older, especially those with chronic lung disease; moderate to severe asthma; chronic heart disease; severe obesity; diabetes; high blood pressure; chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; liver disease; or weakened immune system.
“All Catholics of the Diocese of El Paso remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation (canon 1247),” Diocesan officials added. “However, the faithful unable to gather for Mass are encouraged to participate with televised and live-streamed Masses every Sunday from home and to incorporate a routine of prayer at other times during the week.”
The requirement to receive Communion during the Easter Season (canon 920) may be fulfilled at another time during the year
Diocesan officials say that, because church capacities will be so limited, the faithful are highly encouraged to attend Mass on a weekday if they are able, so that greater capacity may be available at Sunday Masses for those who cannot attend during the week.
Masses during the week should continue to observe the liturgical calendar, however.
For these reasons, televised and live-streamed Masses will continue, and livestreamed Masses should continue at the parish level as well.