I’ve seen a few social media comments, even a meme that rails against “closed” churches. I’m not impressed with this kind of conspiracy hounding. In three important communications of the past week, my archbishop has emphasized the importance of parishes keeping places of worship open for prayer. From what I’ve heard from my colleagues around the country, and even one or two places beyond the US border, is that churches indeed are open. And people are coming to pray.
I suppose if one is a Catholic who only sees fit to darken a church door for Mass, then yes, the impression might be that we are closed for “business.”
My parish initially kept our daily Mass chapel open. It is smaller, and easier to heat. But in recent communications from the chancery, it was impressed upon us that we would need to disinfect daily. With carpet and seat padding, that would be an onerous task. By today, people were back in our church which, while much bigger, offers only hard surfaces to prepare for the next day’s people in prayer.
I can also foresee that a church with lots of cushy surfaces would be challenged to ensure they are cleansed as well as possible. (A good argument against carpets and other sound-absorbing surfaces!)
I could foresee a priest caring for multiple worship sites might have difficulty entrusting them all to the care and attention of the laity. That would be too bad. It seems that a lay person fussing with an actual situation of a closed church might offer herself or himself as a volunteer or coordinator to get things ready for at least a few hours a day.
One social media commentator informed me all the way from Montana that all Washington and California churches were closed. That’s an “expertise” that moves beyond what I know from experience: our cathedral and nearby deanery parishes all have open doors. So please, Catholic peeps, before you join the fake news cycle, why not check your local parish and see what exactly they are doing. And pay less attention to social media screeds and falsehoods.