BALTIMORE — Archbishop William E. Lori on Sunday said the Archdiocese is in the final stages of developing plans to reopen.
The plan will be based off Governor Larry Hogan’s three-stage process for reopening the State.
In the first step, the Archdiocese of Baltimore will look to reopen its churches for private prayer, such as eucharistic adoration. Gatherings would be strictly limited at first, with social distancing requirements in place.
Confessions, weddings, funerals, and baptisms would be able to be held in the first stage, but with attendance limitations and social distancing.
Lori says public masses would most likely be part of the second stage, with social distancing and limits on attendance.
Even when public masses begin again, Lori says not every parish will be able to have them. Some of the larger parishes could have difficulty limiting attendance, and may choose to further delay public Masses.
Once Masses begin, Lori says the obligation to attend will initially remain suspended, over concerns that some may not immediately feel comfortable in large groups.
Lori warned that public Masses will look different prior to the pandemic. The Sign of Peace might be omitted or limited and the Precious Blood will not be offered during the distribution of the Eucharist. Priests and deacons may not greet before or after Mass, and might line up differently to receive the Blessed Sacrament. There would also be mandatory spacing of families and individuals in pews and a face mask requirement.
"While I believe the first phase of our plan will be able to be safely implemented relatively soon, I do not have an exact timeline for when this will take place," said Lori. "We will move forward when it is safe, relying on the informed guidance of health and state officials. I ask for your continued patience as we will navigate what will be a complex and challenging process for all of us."