I am troubled by the recent precipitous increase in the cases of COVID-19, some of which are happening in churches. Most experts know that we will see what is known as a second wave. As a Catholic, I understand the desire to return to the Sunday morning worship services. Catholics have an obligation to attend Mass, though our Bishop has wisely lifted that obligation during the pandemic. I am truly worried about the spread of COVID-19 that is happening in religious institutions.
The average age of my Church is higher than I prefer to see. Too many of the members of my parish and other religious communities are in the older age group that has a higher death rate from this disease. I worry for their safety and the safety of their families. The rush to return to regular worship services could make our churches part of the second wave.
I am also aware of how many children are being raised by grandparents. A grandparent raising a child that is unnecessarily infected and placed in an ICU or even worse passes away, could increase the amount of children in an already over taxed foster care system. If this even happens once, it is too many times.
This is a trying time for all of us. Though I do not feel attending Mass via technology such as Zoom or YouTube is the same as worshiping together, it is 100% safer and the only way to guarantee no transmission of disease. While Catholics miss the opportunity to take part in the Eucharist, it gives us the opportunity to live long enough to worship together in the future. This pandemic will not last forever.
During Mass we do so many things that are easy ways to spread disease. We hold hands, we hug, we sing, during the Eucharist we eat food handed to us or fed to us and drink after one another, and at my parish, you may occasionally hear an amen shouted after a homily. Though most religious leaders, including Catholic Bishops, have told their congregations not to do these things, old habits are hard to break, especially when they make you feel better.
I believe Jesus’ taught healing. Eliminating all unnecessary gatherings will help our society with healing by not letting the disease use the Catholic Church as a vessel for transmission. For the faithful, please think about your attendance and whether you can worship at home.