Bishop Olson responds to coronavirus with charity and common-sense measures

by North Texas Catholic

March 12, 2020

person washing hands

FORT WORTH — In a March 12, 2020 statement [click for full statement], Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson notified the clergy and faithful that the diocese is keeping current with the Novel Coronavirus 2019 by consulting with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the public health departments of local counties.

Mass will continue to be offered on Sundays in the Diocese of Fort Worth despite the cancellation of many public events across the country.

Bishop Olson noted, “It is incumbent upon us as faithful members of the Church to act with the utmost of solidarity, justice, and prudence in rejecting selfish fear and embracing our responsibility to love our neighbor, especially the vulnerable, for the sake of peace and the common good of our society.”

To lessen the spread of COVID-19, the liturgical adaptations for flu season adopted on January 10 remain in force, including:

  • No holding hands during the Our Father.
  • Omit handshakes for the Sign of Peace.
  • Laity are strongly encouraged to receive the host in the hand.
  • No distribution of the Precious Blood.
  • If a non-communicant comes forward for a blessing, the blessing should be given without touching them.
  • The faithful are reminded that in receiving the Eucharist under one species, they are still receiving Jesus Christ — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity — as the Church has always taught and as Christ intended.

In his statement, the bishop encouraged handwashing, using hand sanitizer, and covering coughs and sneezes. “There is an essential and required responsibility for all priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers to use reasonable precautions to protect the faithful who attend Mass and receive the Eucharist,” he said.

Furthermore, “People who are sick, who exhibit contagious symptoms, or who are particularly vulnerable to the transmission of the virus are dispensed in charity from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass,” he continued.  

The diocese will follow all directives issued by civil and health officials to combat the spread of the illness, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.

In Washington state, one of the hardest hit states, the governor has limited gatherings of more than 250 people. Therefore, the Archdiocese of Seattle became the first in the country to temporarily suspend all public Masses. However, state and local officials in Texas have not recommended similar restrictions.

If additional measures are taken in the Diocese of Fort Worth, the bishop will notify pastors and post information on the diocesan website, fwdioc.org.

Although Bishop Olson regards the illness seriously, he encourages “each and all of us to reject panic and make our contribution to the common good with solidarity and love for our neighbor.”

person washing hands

In a March 12, 2020 statement, Diocese of Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson notified the clergy and faithful that the diocese is keeping current with the Novel Coronavirus 2019 by consulting with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the public health departments of local counties.

Published (until 3/12/2030)
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