COVID, Papal Comments, McCarrick Topics for Diocesan Pastoral Council
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
November 19, 2020
DIOCESE—Members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council met virtually for their regular meeting Nov. 7. 
The group met online for the second time because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which also topped the agenda for the group.
After reports from DPC executive secretary Kevin Fuss, the ongoing challenges to the life of the Church and the life of the faithful caused by the pandemic were addressed.
In his presentation on the topic, Bishop David Malloy praised “the tremendous work being done by parishes from the priests down to each volunteer” in helping to keep churches clean and safe places to worship and minister. Even though the hope was that the virus would stabilize and there would be some sort of leveling of the virus, the numbers being reported every day tell us that is not the case,” he said.
“Going forward is of particular concern for the elderly and vulnerable,” Bishop Malloy said. For that reason he said, he is continuing the dispensation from the obligation of in-person Mass indefinitely. 
“There will be stormy seas ahead of us, but we continue to do a good job of safety” in the churches so in-person Mass attendance, though limited, will continue. 
Members of the council shared with Bishop Malloy their experiences of attending Mass and reported that new people continue to return to in-person Mass and that online Masses continue to attract large numbers of viewers, many times from all parts of the country. 
Many were concerned with the upcoming winter months and handling outreach to the most vulnerable during that time. Others expressed appreciation to the Diocesan Finance Office for assistance during the pandemic. 
Bishop Malloy also commented on the reported remarks made by Pope Francis on civil unions during a recent interview for a documentary. 
Bishop Malloy relayed some clarification from the Vatican reaffirming the nature of marriage between a man and a woman and putting some of the pope’s remarks into their proper context. 
“The long and short of it is, our faith does not change, Christ has given us the words for all time and our task is to implement them, not change them ... . The whole story of creation in Genesis still remains for us. It is important for us not to allow an informal comment with a kind of a vague background to get us uneasy or uncomfortable particularly when our faith is very established in this area that is very contested right now,” Bishop Malloy said. 
During the discussion that followed, council members thanked Bishop Malloy for his remarks but expressed frustration with the Vatican in the delay clarifying the remarks. 
Council members were also updated on how and when names of priests with substantiated allegations of abuse are added to the list maintained on the diocesan website under Safe Environments. 
His comments were to clarify an erroneous report by a  newspaper in the diocese that six names had recently been added. The last update to the list was on Oct. 20, 2020, when one new name was added. 
Bishop Malloy also shared with council members the fact that a full report on the investigation into the handling of allegations against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was due to be released the week following the DPC meeting (Nov. 10.) 
While Bishop Malloy said he had no preview of what might be included in the report, he expected that some of the news would be “shameful.” (See coverage in the Nov. 13 issue.)
Kevin Fuss, executive secretary of the DPC, reported on the first-ever virtual ministry day attended by some 300 participants. As successful as the format was, Fuss said most all those surveyed after the meeting look forward to an in-person meeting. 
The next Ministry Day is scheduled for October 2021.
Fuss also said that Mass counts would still be taken this year despite the capacity restrictions of the pandemic. Counts were to be conducted Nov. 7-8 and Nov. 14-15. 
Joining the DPC at the last meeting was new member Kristin Rauch representing laypeople from the Freeport Deanery.
The next meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council will be in June 2021.
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