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Diocese of La Crosse announces 'gradual reopening' of Catholic churches starting May 31
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Diocese of La Crosse announces 'gradual reopening' of Catholic churches starting May 31

Bishop William Callahan mug


Catholic churches in La Crosse can begin reopening at a “slow controlled” rate according a statement released Thursday evening by the Diocese of La Crosse.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has required a great sacrifice for the Catholic faithful, restricting worship and active participation,” wrote Bishop William Patrick Callahan in the statement.

Starting Sunday, May 31, La Crosse Catholic churches will be allowed to reopen if they have proper safety supplies, have trained non-vulnerable volunteers, and maintain a 25% occupancy that allows for social distancing.

The Diocese also requests that congregationalists refrain from meeting before or after mass on church property and that parishioners who aren’t part of the same household should maintain a distance of 6 to 8 feet.

The church will also continue to not require anyone to attend mass, and asks that anyone over 65 or with underlying health conditions still stay home, and that live streaming and televised services should continue if possible.

“No one is required, under the pain of the mortal sin, to attend mass until further notice,” Callahan said in a letter to constituents.

The bishop ended his note addressing the backlash he and officials received about closing the churches. In La Crosse, more than 100 protestors met in front of St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral last week, calling to open the churches back up.

“I have heard from many different sources, phone calls, emails, letters and even public media, that many of you are upset, angry and hostile about my apparent insufficient care and concern for you,” he wrote.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been deeply frightened by this disease and by its presence among us,” he added, “I am sorry that many folks who sent word to me expressed their thoughts by saying I was acting as a puppet of the state and not an agent of the church.”

“All I can tell you is that I am doing my best, and I will continue to love you and pray for you.”

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