“Cardinal Cupich’s plan for re-opening the churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago is no more than an order to comply with Governor Pritzker’s extreme limits, with the added complication of requiring ‘certification’ from the Archdiocese,” said Ann Scheidler, one of the coordinators of the Rosary vigils at Holy Name Cathedral. “It is an unacceptable response to the needs of the Chicago area faithful.”
Members of the St. Charles Borromeo Society will gather in front of Holy Name Cathedral on Thursday, May 21, at noon to pray the Rosary, and then march to the Quigley Center at 850 N. Rush Street to formally deliver a rejection of Cardinal Cupich’s Plan.
The St. Charles Borromeo Society has gathered every Friday since April 24 to beseech Cardinal Cupich to unlock the churches and make the sacraments available to the faithful. The archbishop rejected the Society’s April 22 request for a meeting, stating via email “this is not an opportune time for such a meeting.”
In publishing his Plan for the Archdiocese, the Cardinal stated that he has been in constant communication with the governor’s office, yet rather than working out a plan that would safely accommodate a reasonable number of parishioners like many other dioceses have done, the Cardinal settled for the highly restrictive number of 10 people present for Baptisms, Reconciliation, Weddings and Funerals. Guidelines published by the USCCB on April 28 made it clear that gatherings of larger numbers of attendees are acceptable when the size of the space can safely accommodate them.
The complicated process sets no actual date for the resumption of public Masses or making the Holy Eucharist available to parishioners.
“We will continue to gather in front of our Cathedral,” said Scheidler, “until we are satisfied that our spiritual wellbeing, as well as our physical wellbeing is being met by both the Archdiocese of Chicago and the State of Illinois.”
The text of the letter is reproduced below:
Dear Cardinal Cupich,
Representing many of the Chicago’s Catholic faithful, the St. Charles Borromeo Society rejects your published Plan for the re-opening of our Churches.
Rather than advocating for your people’s need for the Mass and the Sacraments, as the bishops of Minnesota have just done, you have chosen to go along with Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Executive Order allowing only ten people to attend any church functions, while many secular entities have either no restrictions or significantly broader limits on the number of people allowed. This first phase does not even allow for celebration of public Masses.
Home Depot allows 150 people to be in its stores. Walmart limits shoppers to approximately 20% of a store’s capacity. The Diocese of Galveston-Houston permits worshippers at 25% capacity. Many other dioceses are opening at 30 – 50% capacity. Grocery stores and drug stores are successfully managing twenty, thirty or more with shoppers honoring the social distance guidelines. Certainly we can be trusted to do as well as shoppers if we are permitted to enter our churches.
The USCCB issued guidelines on April 28, which suggested using alternate rows of pews, inviting people alphabetically, taking reservations for Mass, celebrating more Masses than normally scheduled, and distributing Communion at the end of Mass. These measures would make it feasible for churches to accommodate larger numbers of people while observing physical distancing protocols.
The Chicago Catholic faithful can be trusted to take precautions for our own and everyone else’s safety and well-being. We are saddened that you, as our Archbishop, have opted not to meet with us, and not to listen to our concerns. You have set up a process that can only further delay our access to Mass and Holy Communion. We pray that you revise your Plan.
Lisa Bergman Joseph and Ann Scheidler
The St. Charles Borromeo Society