Since the reopening of Catholic churches several weeks ago, I have been attending daily and Sunday Mass at various locations in the Diocese of Buffalo. Regrettably, it appears that approximately 20% or more of those in attendance are not complying with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or diocesan requirement as they relate to the wearing facial coverings or masks.
In some cases, parishioners are not wearing a mask upon entering the worship area or they are being removed during the Mass. Some parishioners when wearing a mask do not wear it properly. It does not cover either the nose or their mouth; instead it dangles from around their neck. Under any of these scenarios, this can lead to the further spread of the coronavirus.
To protect the health of all parishioners, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger should require each priest to make an announcement before the Mass begins about the CDC and diocesan obligation to wear a facial covering not only into the church but also throughout the entire Mass. This should be a gentle reminder to the parishioners for them to follow the appropriate safety protocols while in church.
The announcement needs to be made by the priest and not the lector. Also, the announcement needs to be made immediately before the Mass is celebrated. Several churches already have lectors make announcements requesting that parishioners “quiet their cellphones” before Mass begins.
Scharfenberger needs to make certain that the safety of all parishioners remains at the forefront while leading this diocese. This diocese is home to over 600,000 Catholics. A brief announcement by the priest immediately before Mass reminding parishioners about the need to wear a facial covering is both appropriate and responsible during the pandemic.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!