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Florida's Catholic Churches Not Reversing Course On Cancelling Mass, To Protect Parishioners

Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee

Even though Governor Ron DeSantis’ stay-at-home executive order allows for church services to be held in places of worship statewide – the Catholic Church is among the faiths not reversing its course on cancelling services. Bishop Bill Wack of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee says every diocese in the state has cancelled Mass for the foreseeable future.

Listen to Bishop Wack’s conversation with WFSU’s All Things Considered host Ryan Dailey here:

So, we had people contacting me right after this saying, okay, so we’re going to open again, it looks like the governor said it’s okay. However, what he said at the beginning was, we have to follow the CDC guidelines and the guidelines set by President Trump, which still says that you cannot have a gathering of more than 10 people, you have to have 6 feet of distance between those people if you do have 10.”

But, Bishop Wack says, there are some functions of the Church that can continue: Sacraments like Penance, or going to confession, and Anointing of the Sick.  

For us, essential services might be a visit to a priest or confession one-on-one, something like that, or anointing if someone is sick. That can still go on, that’s essential,” Wack told WFSU. “No one, and nothing can stop that.”

Bishop Wack calls it an “extreme challenge” to refrain from gathering for Mass, but says the limitations are helping Catholics to “take hold of their faith in the depths of their hearts,” while still being able to connect digitally.

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.