Bishop Edward J. Burns has announced the start of opening up the Diocese of Dallas in four phases, beginning with scheduled confessions and the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation and religious celebrations for families that may now begin in small groups.
“The health and safety of our faithful, clergy and our community are our utmost priority during these difficult and challenging times, and it is our goal to continue attending to the physical and spiritual welfare of our parishioners,” Bishop Edward J. Burns said. “I ask all in the Catholic community to please recognize the need for patience and prudence during these challenging times, and that we join in prayer for all those who are affected by this virus.”
Phase One will begin the opening process by resuming scheduled confessions and Eucharistic Adoration with strict social distancing guidelines; the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for those who were unable to be brought into the Church due to the pandemic); and religious celebrations for families with guidelines that limit attendance (weddings, ordinations, funeral Masses and quinceañeras).
Phase One became effective with the signing of the decree and will be in effect until at least May 18.
Specific requirements will apply to all limited gatherings and to the church buildings. Groups may not exceed 25 percent of total listed capacity for church buildings and all social distancing requirements (six feet of separation) must be strictly followed when individuals are present in church buildings. If a liturgical celebration or event cannot maintain the capacity and social distancing requirements, it may not take place. The decree also states that all local safety orders specifically relating to proper face coverings should be followed in church buildings. All church buildings will also be diligently disinfected.
Daily and Sunday Masses will remain temporarily suspended, but will resume in future phases. Diocesan schools will remain closed, and e-learning is to continue until further notice.
In the decree, the bishop also has continued the dispensation of attendance at Sunday Mass, reminding the faithful that Masses from parishes are continued to be streamed via the internet or broadcast on television during this time period.
It is unclear when the second, third or fourth phases will begin, but the first phase will remain in place until at least May 18.
The second phase calls for the resumption of public daily Masses with limited and restricted attendance in order to adhere to safe distancing protocols. The third phase will include the start of public Sunday Masses, again with limited and restricted attendance in order to adhere to safe distancing protocols. The fourth phase, will include the celebration of Sunday Masses at full capacity, “with a return to a state resembling Catholic life before the beginning of the pandemic.”
The decree issued by the bishop follows.