With careful planning, we can resume essential religious gatherings

If big-box stores can space out their customers to keep social distance, churches can do so as well.

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Parishioners wearing gloves and face masks pray during the morning mass at a church in Rome.

Parishioners wearing gloves and face masks pray during the morning mass at a church in Rome.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP

I found Laura Washington’s May 17 column, on religious gatherings, inspiring and thought-provoking.

She ended by saying “I wish to God there were a better way.” Actually, there is a better way.

Cardinal Blase Cupich (and other religious leaders) should pick up the phone and tell the governor he was wrong to omit religious services from the list of essential services. Even if no policy changes are made, this symbolic point must be insisted upon.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

However, some easy policy changes could be made. If big-box stores can space out customers to keep social distance, so can churches. Ushers can make certain that every other pew remains empty and that only members of one household sit in each pew. Hand-shaking and hugging can be omitted.

For sharing Holy Communion, the priest or minister can carefully place sacred hosts on an altar table and the congregation can file up, six feet apart, and each take one sacred host. A health precaution would thus become a sacred ritual.

What about it, Cardinal Cupich? Pick up the phone. Insist that religion is essential and work out a reasonable and healthful plan for worship.

Edward R. Kantowicz, Chicago

Praying the Rosary

As a Catholic, I understand the need for fellowship at a service, to have a “day at the end of the week to wonder and rejoice.” But these are not normal times and sacrifice is demanded of us all, which all Christians should understand.

Regarding the apparent distress caused by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s categorizing of religious worship as non-essential, I can only suggest that my fellow Catholics think of the Rosary as a Zoom call to God.

I believe He would understand.

George Tafelski, West Elsdon

Keep sports camps closed

Even as new dangers are being discovered as to the effects of COVID-19 on children, Illinois 6th District congressional candidate Jeanne Ives is circulating an online petition to reopen children’s sports camps.

Children are not immune to COVID-19. They can become very ill, and — as the tragic death of 12-year-old Ernesto Guzman shows — can die. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued an emergency advisory about the virus possibly causing inflamed blood vessels in children. The risks may be lower for children than adults, but there is still a risk, and it is still not fully understood.

There are also risks to adults from these camps. Children can be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 and staff members are at risk of infection. A potential outbreak wouldn’t be confined to the camp. It would spread into the general community.

Once we have more testing and a better understanding of the virus, then we can consider reopening sports camps. Now is not that time. There are more important priorities to address.

William Brinkman, Palatine

Firing another IG

Steve A. Linick of the State Department is the fourth department inspector general in the Trump administration to be removed from his job.

Is this preparation for establishing an autocratic form of government? Ensuring a honest election in November 2020 is of utmost importance. 

Jay Massey, Glenview

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