With the commitment for Catholics to attend Mass this weekend, the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Greensburg have released updates on how the Mass will be held in light of the spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant.
All pastors of the Eucharist in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, regardless of their vaccination status, are required to wear masks, as are greeters and ushers. And outside ministries are allowed to continue within the diocese, reversing an earlier policy that would end on September 1st.
In a letter to the clergy of the diocese, Bishop David Zubik wrote: “Our response to the pandemic falls under the commandment ‘love your neighbor as yourself’. For us, as members of the Church of Pittsburgh, any response to COVID must be guided by Catholic social principles of solidarity and the common good. In these circumstances, it is impossible to make decisions that affect one person alone. COVID affects the whole community, so we need to act with the whole community in mind. “
Last Friday, Zubik and Bishop Larry J. Kulick of the Diocese of Greensburg attended an online meeting with other Catholic bishops on security amid the ongoing pandemic. A joint statement admits: “It is now evident that this global health crisis could last months or years.”
The statement also notes that masks are not mandatory, but “every parishioner is strongly advised to make a responsible decision about the use of masks and vaccinations”. It indicates that all of the bishops of Pennsylvania, Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict, were vaccinated.
From Friday, the Diocese of Greensburg will require a mask for everyone who volunteers on behalf of a community regardless of their vaccination status, including ushers, greeters, servers, volunteers at events, sick people or those bound to a home or other internal services. The use of masks is also strongly recommended for worshipers or indoor events. Parish and diocese staff are required to wear face coverings in public areas, and clergymen should wear masks during the delivery of Holy Communion. Lecturers and cantors are allowed to take off their masks while singing or reading.