Parishioners who have been fully vaccinated may attend Mass and other church events from now on without a face covering, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz announced May 17 in a letter to pastors.
His announcement followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on mask use and a revision to Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order on mask-wearing.
A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the full dosage of their vaccine — including both doses of a two-dose vaccine.
“For privacy reasons, we must rely on the good will and honesty of parishioners about their vaccination status,” the archbishop said in his letter to priests.
Archbishop Kurtz also encouraged priests to accommodate parishioners who aren’t comfortable with the change.
“At the recent Priests’ Council meeting, one pastor stated that he will designate a section of his worship space with more space between individuals or family groups, and of course, anyone who wishes to continue to wear a mask should be supported in doing so,” he wrote to pastors.
Archbishop Kurtz has joined Pope Francis and other bishops of the United States in encouraging Catholics to be vaccinated.
In a letter to pastors dated May 3, he wrote, “I have been fully vaccinated, and I encourage all Catholics to do the same. Our Holy Father said that taking a vaccine ‘is about a moral choice because it is about your life but also the lives of others.’ Taking a vaccine is an act of love and a contribution to the common good, and I encourage your support of vaccines with parishioners.”
In addition to the updates on mask-wearing, the archdiocese has also eased restrictions on seating capacity in churches. Beginning on May 3, churches that were ready to do so were permitted to increase seating capacity by reducing the distance between families. Previously, parishes were required to maintain six feet between family groups, a figure that kept some parishes at 25 percent capacity. The changes that took effect May 3 asked parishes to maintain at least three feet between individuals and family groups.
In his most recent letter to pastors, Archbishop Kurtz said, “Parishes should continue to enforce safe physical distancing,” but noted that Gov. Beshear has announced that he plans to lift capacity limits on June 11.
“I will send directives that hopefully will be final at that point,” he said, adding a simple but clear, “Alleluia!”