Coronavirus: Catholic dioceses lift Mass obligations, some services canceled

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- The Archdiocese of New York announced Saturday that it is canceling all Masses beginning this weekend, March 14-15, 2020.

A private Mass will be celebrated in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, and will be available on many cable systems on the Catholic Faith Network.

Churches will, however, remain open for private prayer.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, urged the faithful to remember in their prayers all those whose lives have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

"Let us pray for all who are sick, as well as doctors, nurses, caregivers, and all those working hard to combat the disease," he said "We should also remember those whose lives have been otherwise disrupted, especially anyone who has lost income from a loss of work during this difficult time."

Earlier, several archdioceses had said that Catholic parishioners were no longer obligated to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre says churches will remain open this weekend and Mass schedules will remain mostly unchanged, though parishioners' obligation to attend is temporarily lifted.

According to a Brooklyn news release: "In an effort to be proactive in our response to the spread of the Coronavirus, the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn, has dispensed the faithful from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice for Catholics of Brooklyn and Queens."

Sunday Masses will still be celebrated, according to a news release, but the faithful are urged to be careful if they do attend.

Weekday masses will continue and other services will continue, like weddings and funerals, but with limited attendance, according to the release.

Archbishop of Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin announced he had dispensed the faithful of the Archdiocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice and has suspended the public celebration of Mass for Saturday evening, March 14, and Sunday, March 15.

The celebration of daily Mass will continue, and churches of the Archdiocese will remain open with parishioners encouraged to pray while maintaining a prudent distance from each other.

Officials say the decision will be reviewed daily, and any new determination will be announced next week.

Tobin also has advised that scheduled sacramental celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, or funerals will be permitted, but attendance should be limited to immediate family members only. Further, the sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation will remain available, as needed, by the faithful.

Catholic schools in the Archdiocese will be closed next week, Monday, March 16, 2020, through Friday, March 20, 2020.

Tobin said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution with the health and safety of students, staff, and families at the center of the decision. The situation will be re-assessed by the Task Force to determine if an extension is needed.

Religious education activities also are suspended throughout the Archdiocese for this weekend, March 14-15, 2020, and for the week of March 16-20, 2020.

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