Washington D.C., Apr 26, 2021 / 15:00 pm
After the governor of New Mexico allowed churches to re-open at 100% capacity, priests in the Diocese of Las Cruces will be permitted to set their parish capacities for celebration of sacraments.
“Effective Friday, April 23rd, Bishop Peter Baldacchino has removed the restrictions on Mass attendance and will continue to leave it in the capable hands of the priests in the diocese to celebrate Masses, Funerals, and Weddings at the capacity which they deem prudent while continuing to be aware of their parish realities and the current health precautions set forth by the State and Federal Government,” an April 24 release from the Diocese of Las Cruces stated.
Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe will continue with the indoor Mass attendance limits already in place.
On April 23, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) had announced a new set of public health directives which permitted houses of worship to operate at full capacity.
Previously, churches in the state were limited to tier-based capacity restrictions that were dependent upon the community spread of the virus. That tier-based system is still in place, but now as a set of recommendations rather than restrictions.
The state lifted its restrictions following recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that churches could not be subject to greater pandemic restrictions than similar secular establishments, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
While churches may be reopening at full capacity, the diocese reminded Catholics that they are still dispensed from their obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; precautionary measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing will still be in place at parishes.
“[T]hose that are at risk for COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home and watch the numerous live stream Masses available in the diocese,” the diocese said.