A message from Fr. Bauer: For the common good and well-being of our community


Basilica Community,

Greetings once again from The Basilica of Saint Mary, I hope this message finds you and your family continuing to stay well during this challenging time.

Today I would like to update you in regard to the outcome of last night’s meeting of our parish leadership.

At that meeting it was decided that this is not the right time for our parish to open The Basilica for public Mass. We will review this decision at our next meeting on June 17 and then every two weeks thereafter.

I know this decision will disappoint some of you, but I want to share with you the reasons for this decision. As Archbishop Hebda said in a letter to the people of the Archdiocese on May 23, “If a parish is not confident they are ready, they should not open. Period. And if the faithful feel safer at home, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days continues to be dispensed.”

Last evening as we discussed re-opening The Basilica, it became clear that although we have done extensive work to develop our protocols, at the present moment we were not ready to re-open. There is just so much we don’t know in regard to the progress of COVID-19, that we wanted additional time to review and refine our protocols, and any further recommendations from health officials, so that we don’t inadvertently put anyone at risk, especially anyone on our staff, or any vulnerable members of our community.

This time will also allow us to learn from those churches and facilities across the country that have re-opened. Certainly this is a painful time for all of us. However, our commitment to the common good makes it important for us to be both good Catholics and good citizens when we gather for worship.

As we look at re-opening The Basilica, we will be attentive to any new information from the Center for Disease or Department of Health; a decline in the number of cases/hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19; and how we can be good neighbors to the broader Minneapolis community.

In closing please remember to pray for all those who have died at this challenging time, for those who grieve them, and for those who are sick and their families, and all caregivers. Also let us pray for the women and men in the health care field, and first responders who daily risk their health to take care of our sisters and brothers in need. Let us pray.

Prayer of Pope Francis during the Coronavirus Pandemic

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When the Archbishop said that parishes "should not open" if they are "not confident they are ready" he was referring to their readiness "to follow the many protocols that have been put in place including sanitization and a few changes to the liturgy, particularly regarding the reception of Holy Communion.” Clearly, if a parish isn't ready to put these Archdiocese mandated public health protections in place it cannot and should not open. But if, on the other hand, a parish is able to put the protocols in place then message from the Archbishop seems pretty clear: it ought to "bring the Eucharist, the food of everlasting life, to our community."

Of course, the Archbishop does put a much different standard in place for the laity. "[T]he obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days continues to be dispensed” with no qualification whatsoever, "and if the faithful feel safer at home" then home is where they should stay even if it would be safe for them to attend Mass. They should only return when they feel ready to participate.

Thus, the Archbishop seems to have set out two standards of readiness: one for the parish, which the Archdiocese has defined with its protocols, and another for parishioners, which they may define for now as they choose. Respectfully, the Basilica seems to have confused the two.


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