To the Editor:
On May 8, Bishop Thomas Zinkula published his plan to reopen churches as Governor Reynolds lifted restrictions on religious gatherings on May 1. The Iowa bishops met and decided to resume public Masses, with restrictions, after 14 days of downward trending COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. This follows the governor’s rationale of reopening some businesses in a limited capacity in Iowa counties that have seen a similar 14-day downward trend. Churches will also be opened for private prayer at the beginning of the same downward trend.
I urge Bishop Zinkula not to raise the bar above what the governor has decided. All 99 counties were allowed to start reopening businesses on Friday. This implies that all Iowa counties have had a 14-day downward trend of COVID-19 cases. We must keep pace with the state. The reception of Jesus Christ in holy Communion has already been deemed by society a nonessential service in contradiction to the words of the Savior: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn. 6:53) and “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt. 16:25).
In my opinion, pastors should invite parishioners to every Mass using a rotating lottery that can begin now by limiting the total number of people at Mass to 10. On Friday, certain businesses can operate at 50% capacity. Churches should similarly increase their Mass attendance limits, all while conforming to state social distancing requirements.
If the Christian cannot live without the Eucharist, how can society? St. Augustine called Christians the anima mundi, the soul of the world. But this is true only of Christians who are unafraid to live what they believe.