By Fernie Ceniceros
Editor, Rio Grande Catholic
The Most Reverend Mark Seitz has discerned that due to increasing hospitalizations in El Paso the time is not yet right for relaxation of the restrictions upon church gatherings.
In a letter dated April 28, Bishop Seitz explains the upward trend of coronavirus cases in El Paso is what has led to his decision to continue with the public closure of the celebration of masses.
Bishop Seitz expressed his concern over the difficulty of not being able to celebrate Mass with the physical pressence of the entire communty.
“The Church also feels a great responsibility to set an example for the rest of our community,” Bishop Seitz said. “Opening our churches would convey at this point a false sense of security about the risks of public gatherings here in El Paso. Many of our most fervent members are also people in the categories of highest risk, our senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions,” he added.
Bishop Seitz expressed that priests will be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by appointment. He also indicated that priests are working with local hospitals so that they can be available to deliver the last rites.
“Priests will still be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by appointment and for the Last Rites for those who are dying,’ he said. “Protocols are being finalized for hospital visits under these circumstances,” he added.
Bishop Seitz continues in his letter to encourage the faithful of the diocese of pray to an end of the coronavirus pandemic so that the faithful can return to full communion with Jesus during the public celebration of masses.
“It is our sincere hope that within weeks the prevalence of the virus in our community will be at such a level that will permit an opening of our churches at least for smaller gatherings and private visits,” he said. “In the meantime I would ask all the faithful of the Diocese of El Paso to continue to be united in prayer,” he ended.
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