BALTIMORE, MD—The Archdiocese of Baltimore has released details on their plan to reopen churches as Maryland begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Governor Larry Hogan said the state was ready to begin Phase I of the Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery and that some businesses and churches could begin to reopen to public services. Governor Hogan’s statewide stay-at-home order will expire at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 15th.
The Archdiocese plan looks to be a bit more conservative than the governor’s.
During Phase I, churches will be open for private prayer and adoration, with no more than 10 people at a time in the facility. Confessions – the sacrament of reconciliation – could be held inside churches or in drive-through settings. Whether inside or outside, the sacrament would require maintaining social distance and privacy.
Masses for weddings and funerals could also be celebrated, along with baptisms; the 10-person rule would apply in those cases as well.
“It’s not a very pastoral thing to put people in harm’s way,” said Archbishop William E. Lori. “You know, we really didn’t close the churches because the government said we had to. I think we understood in and of ourselves that we owed it to our people to be responsible about this and to protect them from harm.”
“We want to be able to resume hearing confessions, opening our churches for prayer. We’re looking toward the many who are awaiting baptism, the many who are who have delayed their marriages,” he said.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski has yet to clarify how the county will interpret Governor Hogan’s decision.
A video from the Archdiocese of Baltimore can be viewed below.