Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Why the ban on the parking-lot Mass?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 15, 2020

Milwaukee’s Archbishop Jerome Listecki, explaining why he has banned parking-lot Masses:

Given that we are a Sacramental Church, a Eucharistic people, parking lot Masses should not be celebrated, mainly because the distribution of the Eucharist cannot be done in a consistent and safe dignified manner.

Non sequitur.

True, it is difficult if not impossible to distribute Communion safely and with appropriate dignity to people sitting in cars. But it is possible to celebrate Mass without distributing Communion to the congregation. So it is possible to celebrate Mass in a parking lot safely and with reverence.

The archbishop has the authority to set standards for the liturgy, and he has every right to issue an order against parking-lot distribution of Communion. But he goes well beyond that when he outlaws parking-lot Masses; he has deprived the faithful of their right to be present at the Holy Sacrifice. An enforced Eucharistic fast is painful, but arguably necessary. Still, better the Mass without Communion than no Mass at all.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Apr. 20, 2020 3:02 AM ET USA

    Yes, it’s a good chance to remind people that even in the Novus Ordo, the necessary center of the Mass is the re-presentation to the Father of Our Lord’s sacrifice, not the distribution of the Eucharist. I’m guessing this is why the Church requires us to be present for Mass over 50 times each year, but requires us to receive Communion only once.

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Apr. 16, 2020 9:27 AM ET USA

    A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. Jn 10:12-13 How many of our Bishops and priests practice radical love of Christ? How will the "sheep" ever receive and practice radical love of Christ if their shepherds are indifferent? Pray for God's help.

  • Posted by: Anselm - Apr. 16, 2020 8:56 AM ET USA

    Is outdoor mass gatherings allowed in WI? Parking lot Masses in NY are not authorized per the governor’s order regarding mass gatherings. Same reason why the local drive-in theater did not reopen on April 1.

  • Posted by: feedback - Apr. 15, 2020 11:49 AM ET USA

    It's so true: "Mass without Communion is still better than no Mass at all." It also reflects the pastoral care for souls. I'd guess that before he issued the rule, the Archbishop may have asked some of his senior priests for advice, as Bishops often do, and they were unwilling to be involved in offering outdoor Masses in parking lots. That's one possible scenario. In each diocese there are dedicated faithful priests ready to minister in any circumstances, and those who would rather be golfing.