I appreciate Archbishop Gomez’s liturgical guidelines published on March 13. It is clear that he is taking the COVID-19 crisis seriously and trying to think well about Catholics in Los Angeles. However, the guidelines do not go far enough. Dispensing people from attending mass does not communicate the graveness of the situation. Masses throughout L.A. county should be cancelled for at least two weeks and likely longer. Italy and the state of Maryland have done this. Governor Newsom has put forth new guidelines, so I’m sure the L.A. Archdiocese’s will be updated. In the next several months, the Church needs to lead the way in moral and ethical leadership, prioritizing people no matter what.
What makes this virus so dangerous is that people can have it but show no signs of being sick, so they spread it without knowing they have it. When elders or those with health challenges contract it, the situation can quickly turn fatal.
The Church must lead the way in protecting the most vulnerable. Elders are having a hard time thinking of themselves as vulnerable and are going about their lives as usual. They are often the most involved parishioners and see worshiping and volunteering as moral obligations they cannot stop. The Church must stop them.
I know this firsthand. Last weekend, thanks to the Archbishop’s guidelines, a retreat my father was refusing to miss was canceled. A devout 76-year-old with “underlying issues,” he would not listen to anyone in our family beg him not to go. The final word had to come from the Church.
There are lots of creative alternatives, such as Mass for the Homebound. Parishes can send out letters and emails asking people to consider donating online or mailing in offertory donations so that they can keep serving those in need.
Stephanie Abraham, Holy Name of Mary Church, San Dimas