I have to hand it to the El Paso Catholic Diocese. They have been at the forefront of safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were among the first entities to close their facilities because they knew that they couldn't maintain the kind of sanitization procedures that were necessary to keep parishioners safe, they reopened slowly and were almost the last entity where the public gathered to reopen. They did so slowly and safely and now they are doing the right thing for El Paso faithful once again.

El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz released a letter to the area's Catholics outlining how they would continue to work at keeping parishioners safe. The Bishop said it doesn't take an epidemiologist to see that the Delta variant could cause our local hospitals to again be filled with people suffering from the virus and people dying from it.

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He said "It doesn’t take an epidemiologist to know that the areas with the highest levels of infections and deaths are also those places with the lowest numbers of those vaccinated." The Bishop outlined the way the Diocese would be dealing with the growing numbers of infections in El Paso. He said that everyone who works for the Diocese and those who are catechists and Eucharistic ministers will need to be vaccinated. He said that if Diocese employees can't be vaccinated due to particular health issue they can try to get an exemption.

The Bishop wisely pointed out that employees and those in ministry in the Church work closely with the faith community in El Paso and the Church has a responsibility to do everything it can to keep others safe. To quote the Bishop, "I could not live with myself if I did not do all in my power to assure that the Church’s ministry does not place others at risk."

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You will not have to be vaccinated to attend Mass or most other events at Church. Because children under 12 cannot yet be vaccinated it would exclude them from Church activities. But the Bishop said if you are unvaccinated and aged 3 or older you will have to wear a face mask. He also didn't rule out return to some of the former restrictions we saw during the height of the pandemic.

I do love that the Bishop pointed out that if someone with the Diocese or the ministries chose not to get vaccinated it would be "a sad commentary on one’s level of commitment to the Body of Christ." I'm glad the Bishop weighed in and is continuing to keep the El Paso faith community safe.

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