SEATTLE – It’s not yet time for Catholic churches here to reopen, the state’s bishops said May 22 in response to President Donald Trump’s call for governors to let church services resume now.
“While we share the desire to bring people back to Mass as quickly as possible, we will wait to schedule our public worship when it is safe and we are prepared to do so,” the bishops said in a joint statement issued by the Washington State Catholic Conference. “Right now, we do not have a date or determination of size for Mass gatherings.”
The statement was signed by Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Seattle, Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane and Seattle Auxiliary Bishops Eusebio Elizondo and Daniel Mueggenborg.
Through the WSCC, the bishops have submitted a proposed reopening plan with Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, outlining “how we can safely return to public worship, while ensuring reverence and respect for the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass,” the statement said.
“It is our understanding that these are in review with the governor’s office now. We look forward to his rapid response.”
The bishops also noted that the decision to suspend Masses during the COVID-19 pandemic was not made out of fear, but rather “out of our deepest respect for human life and health. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be instruments of God’s protection for the vulnerable and the public common good. Our love of God and neighbor is always personal and not partisan.”
While working with the governor’s office, the bishops also are working with parishes on plans for reopening that will create a safe environment that is “liturgically reverent.”
“It is our hope that our right to responsibly and safely gather for worship will soon be honored so we can collaborate in a manner that respects both our Catholic tradition as well as our civic responsibilities,” the bishops said.
“We look forward to welcoming people back into our parishes.”
Read the complete statement: