SEATTLE – After consulting with priests, the bishops of the Archdiocese of Seattle have decided not to begin celebrating “drive-in” Masses.
In a video released May 7, Archbishop Paul D. Etienne discussed Gov. Jay Inslee’s allowance for “drive-in spiritual services” during Phase 1 of the state’s Safe Start reopening plan.
“As strange as it sounds to us,” the archbishop said, “drive-in Masses will be our first opportunity to provide the Eucharist for our people.”
But several concerns were raised during a May 7 meeting of the Presbyteral Council, a group of priests that advises the archbishop.
In a letter sent May 8 to priests and parish leaders, Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg explained that “after reviewing the actual guidance, it became clear that ‘drive-in spiritual services’ present many obstacles that could compromise the integrity, sacredness, and reverence of our Catholic worship.”
“We are taking great care to ensure reverence and respect for the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass — especially the Blessed Sacrament,” he added. “We explored potential options but the reverent celebration of the Eucharist would be difficult under these guidelines.”
The governor’s guidelines for drive-in services do not permit the distribution of Communion. A May 6 memo states: “No food, beverages, or other materials (whether for religious or secular purpose) may be distributed or collected before, after, or as part of the service.”
The “overwhelming recommendation” of the Presbyteral Council, Bishop Mueggenborg said, “was to continue offering Mass by livestream video and to encourage acts of spiritual communion.”
The bishops of Washington are engaging with the governor’s office about the possibility of gathering for Mass in church buildings with appropriate safeguards.
“In light of our desire to celebrate Mass reverently and consistently throughout the archdiocese, our current conversations with civil authorities, and the overwhelmingly strong recommendation of the Presbyteral Council, the archbishop and auxiliary bishops have unanimously decided to postpone any celebration of ‘drive-in’ Masses,” Bishop Mueggenborg wrote.
“It is our hope that we can soon experience the freedom to safely gather for worship.”
Read Bishop Mueggenborg's letter below: