Presence Podcast – Words For Now and Later – D is for DECENCY

I recorded this next episode of my sub-podcast a few days ago just hours after the president announced, according to ABC News:

“I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now,” he said making the announcement and leaving without taking questions after calling church closings an “injustice.”

He threatened to “override” governors if they weren’t allowed to reopen “this weekend.”

Since the Sunday toward which the president was aiming this order, is today (I write at 0215) I wanted to get this post up along with the letter from the bishop of our Diocese of Columbus (Ohio)

Words for Now and Later – D is for Decency—D-is-for-DECENCY-eeea37

To learn more about this sub-podcast, visit my first post in this category.

Bishop Brennan’s entire letter to the diocese is here.

The part which I deem as most “decent” is this:

All Catholics in the Diocese of Columbus are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass at least through September 13, 2020. Please, if you have any concerns, do not come at this point. In fact, I encourage all to follow the public guidelines here in Ohio as much as possible. If you are in one or more of the “high risk” categories, it is still too early to come out. And, of course, if you are experiencing any signs of illness, you have a serious obligation to stay at home. Given that the obligation is dispensed, individuals who wish to participate at Mass and receive Holy Communion might consider coming at a less crowded time, perhaps during the week

And most of all, please pray. Pray for me, for your parish priests and the teams with whom they are working to prepare for the return to public worship. These days the Gospels take us spiritually to the table of Jesus with his Apostles on the night of the Last Supper. Reading these chapters little by little (John chapters 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17) might be a good spiritual preparation. And know that I pray for you with gratitude every day.

Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan
Bishop of Columbus

There’s quite the opposite approach from this Baptist pastor in North Carolina quoted on April 30th:

“The news media is pure evil, communist propaganda,” [Pastor Gene] Gouge said.

Not only has he attacked coverage of the pandemic but also whether or not the virus is truly a threat to the country.

“95% of everything that has gone on about the last month or two months is a mirage. It is an illusion, a delusion. It ain’t real,” he said.

“We believe this virus has been weaponized and has been used to hurt our country and hurt our constitution,” he said.

Do keep in mind that a Washington state church choir practice has been identified a one of the earliest “super-spreader” gatherings back in early March. Fifty-two people were infected that night by one carrier of COVID-19. Two of these choir members later died from the coronavirus.

Pastor Gouge and other faith leaders with a “damn the torpedoes” approach to re-opening churches haphazardly and without plans for precautions are acting against common decency.

On the other hand, Bishop Brennan and faith leaders acting with care, wisdom, and caution are “very decent, I must say” (to quote Martin Short’s Ed Grimley character:)

The editorial cartoon in the header was published in March, 2019 at

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