February 18, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We have all been praying for an end to the coronavirus pandemic and for the need to have preventive health care measures in place. It appears we are coming out of the worst of the current wave of the pandemic and that as Lent is approaching, life may be closer to returning to what we knew before we ever heard the words ‘covid’ or ‘pandemic’.
I am pleased to announce that as the provincial government moves to relax restrictions, I am repealing the mandatory mask policy (issued January 14 2022).
Beginning March 1st, people with a valid medical exemption from wearing a mask will be able to participate in person without having to wear a mask. Unfortunately, because some have claimed to have a valid medical exemption who do not, pastors have the discretionary right to ask for proof of a medical exemption. Legally, in our churches, we are allowed to ask for proof but many who do have a legitimate medical exemption are already well known to their pastors. I leave it therefore to the discretion of the pastor and their team to determine if verification is necessary.
To clarify, for now, masks are still required indoors for those without a valid medical exemption. As long as the provincial and local health authorities require masks while indoors, we will continue to require them for attendance at Mass, other liturgies or parish functions as mandated by the government.
I want to thank everyone once more for the sacrifices you have made and the work you have done to keep our parishes as safe as possible so we could remain open. I know the latest mandatory mask policy was difficult and I am relieved to repeal it.
I pray you have a fruitful Lent and a blessed celebration of Holy Week culminating in the most important moment in history – the Resurrection of Christ our Lord!
May God bless you.
Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall