MARQUETTE, Michigan — Face masks are mandatory for people who attend indoor Mass in the Upper Peninsula, starting Saturday, the region’s Catholic bishop said.

“This time of COVID‐19 pandemic has been difficult for all of us, and if we look around we see bitter divisions in our country. It is important that we do not let those divisions creep into the Church, so let us all join together in sharing the love of Jesus which heals divisions,” Marquette Bishop John Doerfler said.

“One area of division is the wearing of face masks. Though the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of face masks in limiting the spread of COVID‐19 is still inconclusive, there is sufficient evidence to judge prudently that we should wear face masks to limit the spread of the disease,” he continued.

“While some may find wearing a facemask to be an intrusion on their freedom, authentic freedom does not mean that we can simply do as we please. Rather, authentic freedom means choosing to love. Wearing face masks out of concern for each other is an expression of the freedom that God has given to us. I know that wearing a mask can be uncomfortable, but it is a sacrifice that we can make out of love for each other,” Doerfler added.

The bishop recommended that those who have difficulty wearing face masks due to health concerns “refrain from such indoor celebrations and gatherings at parishes, while the pandemic threat persists.”

Doerfler oversees all Catholic churches in the Upper Peninsula.

The Marquette Diocese had recommended masks when Masses resumed in May. They’ve been mandatory elsewhere in many Michigan churches.

Crux staff contributed to this report.