Parents of Catholic children in the U.S. may want to get them to attend a church service at least an hour before the school start time, the Church says.
The Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which oversees all 1.4 million Catholic children and families in the United States, says it has developed a strategy that allows Catholic children at all ages to attend worship services at their own convenience, even at times when the school day is not in session.
“I would encourage parents to have them be available to go to a church with the kids that day,” said Monsignor Robert Pirozzi, the archdiocese’s spokesman.
Father Robert Pampi, who oversees Catholic schools in New York and elsewhere, said parents should not be worried about having their children go to Mass when their school is not going to be in session that day.
Instead, he said, they should be concerned about having them go to the chapel.
The archdiocesan archdiaconate is the umbrella for the bishops’ regional offices in the archipelago of about 3 million people.
Pampi said that when children go for a short time with their families, they are not necessarily going to go straight to Mass, but they can go to school.
Parents can also choose to allow their children to join the Mass at a different time, he added.
He said the archbishop’s directive will not apply to all Catholic schools.
The archdiological strategy, called the “Church Plan,” is based on the recommendations of a task force convened in 2010 by the archbishops’ seminary, the Franciscan University of Steubenville, to guide Catholic schools and communities in responding to the changing needs of families in their midst.
Under the plan, schools must have enough time for families to come to worship, as well as time for children to spend with their parents, or in case of emergency.
It also says schools should allow students to attend the Mass or study in the chapel during the school days, as long as the school does not need to close for school purposes.
The plan also calls for schools to allow parents to go with their children for Mass or to study at home during the weekdays.
The plan does not specifically address the issue of how to handle the need for family time, which is usually when school hours are reduced, and it does not say whether it should be provided on a day-to-day basis.
More than half of Catholic families are Catholic, with about 30 percent of them attending Mass, according to the Pew Research Center, which studies religious diversity.
About 40 percent of U.K. Catholic families attend Mass at least once a week, the Catholic News Agency reported.
The pope has said he would like to see more churches with more space, but he has made no specific promises on how to deal with the Catholic schools, which have been struggling with financial problems and dwindling enrollment in recent years.
A Pew survey published in 2014 showed that the Catholic Church had a shrinking share of the U,S.
population, with 13.4 percent of adults identifying as Catholic and just 3.6 percent saying they were affiliated with a Catholic denomination.