From staff reports
Health and safety protocols currently in place concerning COVID-19 will remain for the Diocese of Dallas parishes and schools, Bishop Edward J. Burns announced March 5.
“All of us have been impacted by COVID-19. It has tested our faith and caused tremendous hardships and loss,” the bishop said in a statement released as a response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s March 2 decision to remove the statewide mask mandate beginning March 10. “Though these have been difficult times, we must remain hopeful and vigilant.”
In the statement, Bishop Burns said the governor’s decision to remove the mask mandate and open up the state had created concern as to how diocesan churches and schools would respond. After consultation with priest representatives, health experts and a review of current COVID statistics, the bishop said he asked pastors to continue to adhere to current protocols.
“This includes the dispensation of the Sunday Mass obligation, social distancing and modest church capacity limits,” the statement read. “We also expect the Catholic faithful in the Diocese of Dallas to continue to wear masks out of charity and concern for all those around them.”
The bishop said he planned to regularly revisit this question as the issue develops, “always with an eye on medical statistics, hope for the future and the needs of the faithful in view.”
In his announcement a few days prior, Abbott said that while the state mandates are no longer in place, he urged Texans to continue to exercise “personal vigilance” in navigating the pandemic and that entities can “limit capacity or implement additional safety protocols.” Abbott even encouraged Texans to continue to wear their masks.
According to the bishop’s statement, Matt Vereecke, superintendent of Diocese of Dallas Catholic Schools, already announced that the existing safety measures will remain in place at all diocesan schools through the end of the year.
“I join you in suffering from COVID fatigue. But hope shines brighter than ever with vaccines becoming more available in our communities,” said Bishop Burns in the statement, directing the faithful to read his comments about vaccines online.
The bishop concluded his statement by asking the faithful to join him in praying for an end to “this horrific pandemic that has claimed countless lives.”
“May our Heavenly Father grant us patience and understanding as we all work together to help bring an end to the spread of this deadly virus and the tremendous suffering it has caused,” he said.