Catholic Reaction to the Virus

News: Commentary
by Rodney Pelletier  •  •  March 13, 2020   

Good and bad responses

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As the coronavirus scare sweeps the United States, bishops are responding in different ways, and they affect every Catholic in the country.

Earlier in the week, Seattle Abp. Paul Etienne was the first U.S. bishop to suspend public Masses, and as the situation escalates, the archdioceses of Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C. followed suit.

But while the uncertainty of the future is gripping U.S. Catholics and more people are being blocked from the sacraments, there are bishops who are taking spiritual as well as sensible physical measures.

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas is encouraging his priests to conduct eucharistic processions after Mass before March 19 — the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

He lays out his reasons, saying it's to ask "Our Lord's protection from the coronavirus and healing for those who have already been infected; mercy and eternal rest for those who have died."


It's also to petition "Our Lord for strength for our families and the fortitude to be guided by the truths of the Deposit of Faith and the ethical and moral truths they represent," asking for the guidance and protection of St. Joseph.

U.S. Catholics and more people are being blocked from the sacraments.

He further lays out the following guidelines for processions:

  • After a Sunday or weekday Holy Mass invite a small group to participate in a simple procession with the Blessed Sacrament led by the priests, assisted by deacons if available, and servers.
  • The path of the procession should be on the property of the Church with no civil permits being necessary.
  • Proper reverence for the Blessed Sacrament is paramount but the procession does not need to be elaborate. The priest in alb and cope with two servers is all that would be required. If a deacon is involved, an alb and stole will suffice. If a parish is able to have a more elaborate procession, that is acceptable but not necessary.
  • Safety for all involved is essential, thus the numbers should be limited to a representative group of the parish. Other faithful who want to participate should be encouraged to remain in the Church and pray as the procession leaves the Church, remaining there to welcome the return of Our Lord after the procession.

To hear more about the how Church leaders are responding to the coronavirus scare, watch The Download—Catholic Reaction to the Virus.

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