August 31, 2021 4:04 pm

From Bishop Paprocki,
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Debates about mask mandates and required vaccinations are much in the news in light of Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order seeking to slow the spread of COVID. In the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, our schools are already complying with the governor’s prior Executive Order regarding masks, and our parishes are asked to follow the new mask mandate in indoor public places. Our parishes will also continue other safety measures as COVID cases, hospitalization rates, and ICU admissions have risen rapidly in recent weeks.

The Executive Order’s face covering requirement for indoor public places applies to “all individuals in Illinois who are age two or over and able to medically tolerate a face covering (a mask or cloth face covering).” Noting that some people may be excused from wearing a face covering for medical reasons, no one is to be excluded from attending Mass for not wearing a face covering. The obligation to attend Holy Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation is paramount since eternal life is the most important consideration. As Pope Pius XII said in his Nov. 24, 1957, address to Catholic physicians and anesthesiologists, “Life, health, all temporal activities are in fact subordinated to spiritual ends.”

Also, since the sanctuary of the church is not a public place — in that people are not free to walk through the sanctuary area where the altar, ambo, and tabernacle are located — priests, deacons, and lectors are not expected to wear face coverings while fulfilling their functions at Mass, since this would interfere with their public speaking and the performance of their liturgical roles