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Archbishop urges greater restrictions on religious activities than govt mandate requires

Abp. Thomas Wenski of Miami insisted on the need for 'extreme social distance,' even as Florida's governor classified religious services as 'essential' and allowed for public Masses in his state.
Thu Apr 2, 2020 - 7:47 pm EST
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MIAMI, Florida, April 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Despite the fact that the governor of Florida’s recent “stay-at-home” order due to the coronavirus pandemic deems religious services as “essential activities” and permits public participation as long as “social distancing guidelines” are followed, the archbishop of Miami continues to forbid any sort of parish “drive through” services. 

After Florida governor Ron DeSantis issued a 32-page executive order on April 1 allowing leeway for religious services to be offered at “churches, synagogues, and houses of worship,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski wrote to both clergy and laity laying out more stringent restrictions than those required by the state government.

“Archbishop Thomas Wenski has urged archdiocesan priests to refrain from offering ‘drive through’ palms, confessions or holy Communion or ‘any similar type of activity’ that would encourage people to leave their homes for at least the next two weeks,” according to a statement published by the Archdiocese of Miami.

Wenski’s statement, titled “No palms, no confessions this weekend,” was made public on the same day Gov. DeSantis issued the executive order.  

“These next two weeks, our health professionals tell us will be very critical — with more people becoming infected and more deaths,” wrote Wenski. “Because many people who are infected may not have any symptoms, the best way to mitigate risk is to practice social isolation and, if one has symptoms or has possibly been exposed, or has an underlying health problem, to self-quarantine.”

About one half of Florida’s coronavirus cases have been in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, which constitute the major portion of the Archdiocese of Miami. 

“Miami-Dade and Broward counties lead the state in confirmed coronavirus cases, which totaled 6,955 statewide as of April 1, with 890 hospital admissions and 87 deaths. Since March 29, the cases in Florida have grown by over 800 each day,” continues the archdiocesan statement. “Broward has tallied over 1,200 cases and 12 deaths; Miami-Dade has about 2,200 cases and 7 deaths. Statewide, about 10% of those tested have come back positive for the virus.”

“Because of the need for everyone to observe extreme social distance, and to follow civil authorities’ instructions to remain at home as much as possible to mitigate the risks of spreading the virus, it is not prudent for parishes to plan any activity that would encourage people to leave their homes,” wrote Wenski (emphasis his). “Therefore, parishes are not to offer ‘drive through’ palms, confessions or Holy Communion or any similar type of activity.

Governor DeSantis’s executive order came after more than thirty U.S. governors had already issued similar orders.

The statewide “stay-at-home” order, which goes into effect at 12:01 A.M. Friday, April 3, includes the following directive, identifying religious activities as “essential”:  

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Governor DeSantis’s executive order can be viewed here.


  archdiocese of miami, coronavirus, florida, quarantine, ron desantis, thomas wenski

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