Iowa bishops on reopening: ‘We need to be prudent’


Read Bishop Thomas Zinkula’s letter to the Davenport Diocese here

Our Dear People:

Since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, Catholics in Iowa have been obliged by civil, scientific, and church authorities to sacrifice the opportunity to receive sacraments and worship in common.

With the lifting of restrictions against certain public gatherings, including religious assemblies, by Governor Kim Reynolds, members of the faithful are understandably renewed in their hope that they might safely return to church and resume some form of regular parish life. Yet the spread of the COVID-19 disease remains a real and present danger. In particular, the health and survival of the elderly and other vulnerable populations is still a grave concern. Many parishioners and priests fall within these groups.


In light of the expectation that positive cases of COVID-19 will peak in Iowa in the next few weeks, we have decided it would be most prudent for now to continue to follow the liturgical restrictions we have in place, including the suspension of public Masses. Without an effective vaccine or widespread testing and contact data that justifies a change in course, we simply are not at a place where we can resume our previous prayer practices.

The suspension of the Sunday Mass obligation remains in effect statewide, and all vulnerable persons, the sick, and those who may have been exposed to the virus are asked to look after their own welfare with the support of those who care for them. We ask parish, school and diocesan staff to continue to minister to the faithful, and the faithful to each other, in ways other than meeting in groups during this difficult time of the pandemic. We strongly encourage parishioners to visit the website and social media outlets of the parishes and schools to stay in touch as we look forward to gathering in person.

We will continue to closely monitor the statewide and respective regional situations through the weeks of May and beyond. When the time comes that we can gather in greater numbers while observing social distance, safe hygienic practices and other precautions without placing one another at serious risk, public Masses and other sacramental celebrations will be allowed to resume.

These days are not easy. We understand that many of you are frustrated with this situation; so are we. We want to celebrate Mass with our parishioners and get back to “normal.” However, we take the advice of Paul: “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Take comfort in knowing that Jesus is with us and with you, our faithful.

Your Brothers in Christ,


Most Rev. Michael Jackels

Archbishop of Dubuque


Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless

Bishop of Sioux City


Most Rev. Thomas Zinkula

Bishop of Davenport


Most Rev. William Joensen

Bishop of Des Moines

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4 thoughts on “Iowa bishops on reopening: ‘We need to be prudent’

  1. Thank you for caring and we as people can watch on TV and still make it special. Take care and stay safe

  2. Bishop Zinkula,
    I appreciate you in not opening our churches at this time. The virus as you said remains at a daily increase. I know we all miss the Sacraments . God wants us to be free of this virus and maintaining distance will hopefully decrease our chances of spread.
    Thank you to the other Bishops and Archbishop for making this decision. So “ THANK YOU”!
    God Bless You! Stay safe
    Parishioner from St Joseph’s De Witt.

  3. I miss Mass. However, with the elderly or those with underlying conditions ( diabetes, anemia, CAD etc,) please be cautious in restarting Sunday Mass. Priests and the Pope must reassure those of us already dealing illness that watching on TV or even forgetting that we will be loving God just as much. So many times it is just those who are eager at 78-90 who struggle return to their Sunday Obligation during or even after colds that either get other viruses or spread them. I know I missed many a Sunday as mornings are bad for me but then suffered the guilt that I was taught. Please tell…as God WILL conquer this with help of our petitions to HIM and all the Saints…that if you are elderly and have pre-existing conditions to STAY HOME and that the group that we PRAY FOR return to take our place. I hope as things return to as normal as they can, many of the Eucharistic Ministers volunteer to wear masks and bring the LORD to ones who now fear crowds, it is so important for us to receive HIM into our souls. TY for guidelines and GOD BLESS all of those who take care of us physically but also those who recognize our spiritual lives need the LORD to give us HOPE.

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