Catholic Conference of Ohio
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

News & Press - Catholic Conference of Ohio

Diocesan Information Regarding Responses to the Coronavirus

Public Masses/Liturgies Resume Throughout Ohio

Information by Diocese on Worship Guidelines, News, Resources, Volunteer Opportunities and Donation Opportunities related to the Coronavirus 

United States Conference of Bishops Issue Statements of Concern

Address Racism, Xenophobia, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African American Communities

 In the midst of fear and anxiety being fueled by the COVID-19 virus, there have been increased reports of incidents of racism and xenophobia against Americans of Asian and Pacific Island heritage. On May 5, 2020, Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake City and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Island Affairs, and Bishop Shelton Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism issued a statement expressing their deep concern.

On May 4, 2020, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux and chairman of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of USCCB’s Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Nelson J. Perez of Philadelphia, and chairman of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church, and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, and chairman of Subcommittee on African American Affairs released a statement in response to the impact of the COVID-19 virus in African American communities.

Bishop Chairmen Issue Statement on Rationing Protocols by Health Care Professionals in Response to Covid-19

Recent news reports have highlighted policies and practices relating to rationing protocols in response to the COVID-19 virus, prompting a response by three committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Principles and guidelines

Catholic Health Association of the United States
Catholic Medical Association
National Association of Catholic Nurses-USA
National Catholic Bioethics Center

Church Leaders Praise Lawmakers for Historic Emergency Legislation on Coronavirus Relief

Improvements Still Needed

 Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, praised members of Congress and the President for passing and signing into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

Brian Corbin, executive vice president of member services at Catholic Charities USA, welcomed allocations in the CARES Act for a variety of social services, some of which are delivered by diocesan agencies.

According to Corbin, among the specific items being funded are an additional $15 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps; $8.8 billion for child nutrition assistance; $4 billion for emergency solutions grants to address homelessness; $5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant that often funds social services such as food programs; and $200 million for the emergency food and shelter program.

Archbishop Coakley also encouraged continued legislative responses.  "There are some areas where aid and relief can improve. We will continue to advocate for those most in need, for food security, for the homeless, for prisoners, for the sick who have large medical bills, for all Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, and for those who have lost friends and loved ones. It was disappointing that certain aid and relief was not extended to the undocumented, and extremely concerning that testing and access to health care coverage was denied to certain immigrants..."

Summary of Legislatve Changes in the CARES Act (National Conference of State Legislatures)


Ohio Legislature Passes Emergency Legislation in Response to COVID-19

Absentee Voting Established Through April 28; Freezes EdChoice Eligibility at Current School Year Eligibility, State Testing in Schools Waived

The Ohio House and Senate passed emergency legislation addressing the COVID-19 crisis (AM HB 197).  Among provisions in the bill are the following: 

  • Primary Elections: Ohioans have until April 28, 2020 to get an absentee ballot in the mail, but most will not get another chance to vote in person;
  • Schools: Waives state testing and report card requirements for the 2019-2020 year, lets distance learning count towards state requirements for hours of instruction, and freezes the list of voucher-eligible school buildings at about 500 (list used in 2019-20);
  • Tax Deadline: Extends the state income tax filing deadline to July 15;
  • Utilities: Prohibits water companies from shutting off people’s services for nonpayment; 
  • Unemployment Compensation: Codifies the governor’s declaration that waived the one week waiting period for benefits, work search requirements and adds COVID-19 to the list of reasons for seeking unemployment.  The Catholic Conference of Ohio will continue to advovate that emergency disaster unemployment assistance be provided to workers who are not covered by state unemployment insurance, and that all for-profit and non-profit employers be treated equally;
  • Summer Food Programs: Exempts a school or entity from regulation as a food processing establishment under certain circumstances;
  • Medicaid: Appropriates and designates additional funds for Medicaid payments to COVID-19 community providers.

Ohio Health Director Issues "Stay at Home" Order

Order continues through April 6th.

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Director Amy Acton has signed a "stay at home" order for all Ohioans, closing all businesses besides those that are deemed "essential."  The order will go into effect on Monday, March 23 at 11:59 p.m. and will remain in effect until at least Monday, April 6. Additionally, all child care facilities except for those with the new pandemic child care license will be required to close by Thursday, March 26.

Catholic Bishops of Ohio Suspend All Publicly Celebrated Masses/Liturgies

Suspension will last at least through Holy Week and Easter

On March 16, 2020 the Catholic Bishops issued another letter temporarily suspending public Mass.

"After serious consideration of the grave health risk involved in public gatherings and in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, the bishops of Ohio have decided, effective immediately, to suspend temporarily all publicly celebrated Masses/liturgies, at least through the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter. The bishops of Ohio dispense the Catholic faithful who reside in their respective dioceses and all other Catholics currently in Ohio from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass through Easter Sunday.

This decision is not taken lightly and, as your bishops, causes us great sadness. However, after consultation with the governor and health officials we are convinced that this is the most prudent and necessary action..."

Catholic Bishops of Ohio Issue a Three-Week Dispensation from Obligation to Attend Weekend Masses

Letter Issued In Response to Governor Mike DeWine's Call to Limit Large Gatherings

On March 12, 2020 the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ohio issued a letter in response to Governor DeWine's executive order regarding large gatherings. Although the Governor excluded churches in the order, the letter dispenses the Catholic faithful in Ohio from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass for the weekends of March 14-15, March 21-22 and March 28-29.

USCCB Committee Chair Encourages Lawmakers in Providing Aid and Relief to Those Affected by Coronavirus

Prayers offered for those suffering from the virus and for healthcare providers

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, encouraged lawmakers as they consider measures to provide relief and aid to those suffering from coronavirus, as well as those affected by workplace closures and other disruptions. He also offered prayers for those suffering from the virus and for healthcare providers.

“The outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, has impacted the lives of hundreds of millions around the world, and is spreading here in the United States. We pray especially for those who are ill and for those who have died. We also offer prayers for those affected by disruptions, such as quarantines and closures of workplaces and schools. Finally, we pray for health care workers, and express our gratitude for their service in combating this disease.  

“At this time, lawmakers are considering with urgency a number of policies that could provide aid and relief. Because of the quickly developing nature of the situation, it is appropriate simply to offer encouragement to members of Congress and the Administration for their efforts to address the many challenges ahead. Special consideration is warranted for those most vulnerable: the poor, the elderly, the homeless, those in prison or detention facilities, immigrants and refugees, and those with severe underlying health conditions... " 

Ohio Attorney General's Office Offering Ohio School Threat Assessment Training Materials

Materials aimed preventing targeted violence and getting help for troubled students.

 Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced the development of new resources to address gaps in preventing targeted violence in schools. These training materials provide guidance on the use of threat assessment protocols. The goal of a threat assessment is to identify persons of concern, assess their risk for engaging in violence or other harmful activities, and identify intervention strategies to manage that risk. This free training is provided in a series of 10 video installments and a printed reference guide.


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