Public Catholic Masses Returning To Massachusetts Saturday, May 23

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Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Boston can resume public Masses starting Saturday, May 23, a spokesman for the archbishop said Monday.

Some churches might need as long as Sunday, May 31 to prepare changes to conform the governor’s new rules, however, the archdiocese said in a written statement Monday afternoon.

Churches in the Diocese of Worcester and the Diocese of Springfield can also resume Masses starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 23.

Churches in the Diocese of Fall River, which includes the South Coast and Cape Cod, won’t re-open until Saturday, May 30, according to a diocesan directive released late Monday afternoon.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker lifted the limit of 10 people on church services Monday morning, effective immediately. It had been in place since March 23 because of the coronavirus emergency.

In theory the governor authorized churches to open right away for public services. But Catholic bishops in the state say individual parishes need more time to implement the changes.

Mass will look a lot different.

The governor’s new rules include a limit of 40 percent the ordinary capacity of church buildings, 6-foot social distancing for non-family members, and masks inside the church.

The bishops have also issued new rules, with some variation.

The bishops’ new rules generally call for no holy water and no reception of communion on the tongue. In the Archdiocese of Boston, no choirs or singing by pewsitters is allowed, either, although an organist and a cantor are allowed.

In most places, baptisms, funerals, confession, and public daily Masses will resume after the first public Sunday Mass occurs.

Given the situation, the bishops are continuing the dispensation of the Sunday Mass obligation, meaning Catholics are not required to go.

New Boston Post obtained statements from each of the four Roman Catholic dioceses of Massachusetts in the late afternoon of Monday, May 18.

New Boston Post plans to provide more details as they become available.