Milwaukee archbishop urges Catholics to return to pews

Milwaukee archbishop urges Catholics to return to pews

Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee, center, attends Pope Francis' celebration of Mass marking the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 12, 2019. (Credit: Paul Haring/CNS.)

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki is urging Catholics in strong terms to return to in-person Mass, provided they follow rules about wearing masks and social distancing.

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki is urging Catholics in strong terms to return to in-person Mass, provided they follow rules about wearing masks and social distancing.

The Journal Sentinel reports the order excusing Catholics from in-person worship expires on Monday. The move coincides with the archdiocese lifting restrictions that limited churches to 25% of capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Listecki’s letter to the 10-county archdiocese said the fear of getting sick is not an excuse, and Catholics “who deliberately fail to attend Sunday Mass commit a grave sin.” He also said that while livestreamed or publicly broadcast services have helped those at home remain connected, they do not replace in-person attendance.

The archbishop said Catholics could continue to miss in-person church services if they are at risk because of age, underlying medical conditions or a compromised immune system, or caring for a sick person.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he wanted to learn more about the archdiocese’s updated reopening plans. He said “they have to be done in accordance with public health.”

Barrett cited weddings, funerals and church services that have infected large numbers of people elsewhere.

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