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Closure and Reopening of Catholic Churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago


Catholic Citizens of Illinois

May 4, 2020


CHICAGO, May 4, 2020 /Standard Newswire/ -- Catholics have been obedient to both civil and Church authorities in practicing required social distancing and quarantine orders to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. In mid-March, Cardinal Blase Cupich followed civil recommendations by mandating the closure of all Churches and suspending all public worship services throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago.


This suspension of the public Worship of God, issued a full week before Illinois Governor JB Pritzker's lock down order, came as an unprecedented shock to most Catholics. The measure was accepted because it was obvious that many organizations and businesses were also taking action to prevent mass gatherings of people to prevent viral infection.


However, over 45+ days since the suspension, the restrictions imposed by Archbishop Cupich on his priests and their parishes have far exceeded those employed by other areas of society. During the "shut down," Catholics have gone to grocery stores, convenience stores, post offices, bank ATM's and other places where people congregate temporarily to do what they need to do. People have been responsible with social distancing or protective masks. Would not Catholics follow the same requirements while attending Mass or a prayer service?


We have been deprived of the sacraments of Christ, which only ordained priests can administer. Holy Communion and Confession in particular are central to the lives of many Catholics. Going without them for long periods can cause much spiritual and even psychological distress. Catholics have privately requested permission from priests for one or more lay people to attend their private Masses or prayer services, but have been told that they are strictly ordered NOT to allow anyone into their Church buildings, even if social distancing is respected!


US Attorney General Barr has insisted that regulations for the virus for all business and churches must be even handed and not discriminatory to religious practice. Because public Worship of God is a constitutional and human right, at least as "essential" as going to convenience stores or post offices, Archbishop Cupich should open Church buildings and allow people to practice responsible distancing and health precautions. If retail stores are allowed to increase occupancy to 50% of capacity under Governor Pritzker's new Executive Order, why are churches limited to only 10 congregants? If some businesses are deemed "essential" where people must gather even during a pandemic, how much more so our Church buildings, where Catholics Worship God in public!?


Catholic Citizens of Illinois is calling for Archbishop Cupich to practice common sense and proportionality in handing this COVID-19 pandemic vis a vis the human rights of his flock. So far, we believe Archbishop Cupich has been overly cautious, bordering on excessive and arbitrary in his response.


In the Gospel, Our Lord Jesus Christ touched the leper who came up to Him and asked "Master, if thou will, thou can make me clean?" Jesus reached out and touched the man saying, "I will it! Be clean!" And the leper was immediately healed. (cf. Matthew 8:2-3) The moral is that the leper wasn't afraid to spread his leprosy to Christ and Christ wasn't afraid to catch it!


Catholics aren't afraid and Archbishop Cupich, a direct representative of Christ, shouldn't be afraid either. Of course, we should practice prudence to prevent the spread of this virus. But, neither Catholics nor any else should be expected to sacrifice their God given rights to do so!


Catholic Citizens of Illinois was founded in 1997 to educate our fellow Catholics to help them serve as responsible witnesses to civil society. In the turmoil of the present COVID-19 health crisis, we believe it is time that educated Catholics voice themselves in favor of their fundamental human rights.


SOURCE Catholic Citizens of Illinois


CONTACT: Mary Anne Hackett, 708-354-5373,


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