Diocese takes “conservative” approach to ease on restrictions

Staff Report

The announcement from Gov. John Bel Edwards that the state will move into a Phase 3 of COVID mitigation will lessen restrictions, but the Diocese of Baton Rouge will remain in the same protocol prior to the announcement.

Bishop Michael Duca of the Diocese of Baton Rouge

The churches in the Diocese will continue to require adherence to mask-wearing, practicing physical distancing through use of every other pew, and a continuation of the protocol for hand and building sanitation that began last year, Bishop Michael Duca said.

The protocols went into effect in March 2020 when the pandemic began and have been instrumental in providing safe places for worship and parish community live within church parishes, he said.

Duca said he chose a conservative path for the diocese and its institutions at the beginning of the phase, aware that some parishes and parishioners are struggling with the requirements of wearing masks and physical distancing.

“It is my hope that with a declining spread of the virus and the growing number of parishioners receiving a vaccination, we will continue to lessen our restrictions for all Church gatherings so that these protocols will no longer be needed,” Duca said. “This time of transition that we are beginning will be a bit complex since it will probably not have a defined moment of ending and beginning.

“I also know that many are coming back to Church because of these practices,” he said. “We need to move forward together. I encourage our clergy to continue with our present protocols for a few weeks to determine if changes are needed or warranted.”