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CHICAGO, Illinois, May 26, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The third largest diocese in the United States has announced that parishioners can return to Mass unmasked but only if they can provide “proof of vaccination.”
The Archdiocese of Chicago, led by Cardinal Blase Cupich, issued a statement Friday offering two options for parishes “given the recent announcements by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local health departments and state and city officials,” easing COVID-19 restrictions.
Option 1 for Masses and liturgies allows “fully vaccinated individuals to refrain from wearing masks as long as they bring proof of vaccination and the parish’s greeter/hospitality team has the capacity to validate attendees’ vaccination status.”
“The pastor and leadership team should clearly communicate to all parishioners and registered attendees the expectation that vaccinated individuals should bring a written record of completed vaccination to show the greeter/hospitality team upon entering the church,” warns the archdiocesan guidance.
“Please note that a picture of the vaccination card on the parishioner’s phone will suffice,” it added. It is unclear if parishioners will be forced to show photo identification, too.
Option 2 requires “masks for all attendees at Masses and liturgies. This option is best if a parish does not have a sufficiently staffed, dedicated greeter team to assume the added responsibility of validating attendees’ vaccination status.”
The second option will remain in effect until the state reaches Phase 5, “at which time it is expected that all mask mandates will be lifted,” according to the statement.
“It is critical that the pastor consult with his Parish COVID-19 Reopening Team and Parish Council to gather input into the decision and process to move forward,” continues the directive. “Registration for Mass and liturgies must continue until we reach Phase 5.”
The strict instructions from the Chicago archdiocese to its nearly 300 parishes leave some questions unanswered:
- How exactly will such a vaccine card-checking system work? Will vaccine cards be checked at every Mass by a “greeter/hospitality team”? Will parishes keep lists of vaccinated parishioners?
- What will happen in the case of a person who cannot receive the vaccine (for example, because of allergies) or who chooses not to receive the vaccine (for example, due to conscientious objection over the vaccines’ connections to abortion, which the Vatican recognizes as valid) yet also cannot wear a mask (for example, due to a disability or condition like pregnancy)? Will such individuals be allowed in churches at all, or will they be denied access to Mass and the Sacraments?
- Are priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago required to receive the vaccine as a condition of employment?
LifeSiteNews reached out to the Archdiocese of Chicago for comment, but did not receive a response by publication time.
Chicago Catholic schools will continue to require that all individuals wear masks “regardless of vaccination status, in all archdiocesan schools and at all archdiocesan school events, whether indoor or outdoor, through the remainder of the school year.”
“Since the vast majority of students and children are not yet vaccinated, this application of the mask mandate makes it easier to administer on the part of school leadership and continues our ongoing efforts to keep young people safe,” claims the archdiocesan statement. “This also remains in accord with Illinois State Board of Education guidance.”
Richard Kijowski, a veteran who is an archdiocesan parishioner, told ABC7 Chicago that he has thought for a long time that mask-wearing has been unnecessary.
“I don't think you need them,” said Kijowski. “I disagree with the whole shebang that we've had here the last 15 months.”
The Archdiocese of New York recently announced it will segregate vaccinated and unvaccinated parishioners, and only those who have received the abortion-tainted injections will be permitted to sing in the choir or serve on the altar.
“Some pastors and choir directors will ask singers for proof of vaccination, but others may use the honor system. It will vary from parish to parish and choir to choir,” an Archdiocese of New York spokesman told the New York Times.
The nearby Diocese of Brooklyn has a similar segregation policy.
LifeSite has reported recently on a number of cases where parishioners were left out from the fullness of parish life due to not having had the experimental coronavirus injection.
The large parish of St. Joseph in the Archdiocese of St. Louis was forced to walk back plans for segregating the congregation based on vaccine status, although the parish hall is reserved for use only by those who have had coronavirus injections.
Meanwhile, New Mexico Archbishop John C. Wester stated that singing in the church choirs, as well as distribution Holy Communion on the tongue, would be reserved for those who had been injected.
Such a stipulation was echoed by St. Cloud’s ordinary, Bishop Donald J. Kettler, who wrote to the diocesan clergy to “strongly encourage that only vaccinated individuals – including priests – distribute Holy Communion.”
Contact information for respectful communication:
Archdiocese of Chicago
Cardinal Blase Cupich
835 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2030
+1 (312) 534-8200