PHILADELPHIA - The Diocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Camden have both announced that all public masses and other church-related events will be canceled until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Officials from the Diocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Camden relayed that their decisions were not made lightly but were made in order to protect their faithful attendees.
DIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA:
All masses will be canceled effective 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 18 until further notice, according to Archbishop Nelson Perez.
"All of us need to do our part to slow the spread of this illness," the Archbishop tweeted Tuesday.
In the mean time, officials say that pastors will be as attentive as possible to all the spiritual, pastoral, and charitable needs of the people they serve.
Priests will continue to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. While churches can remain open at the discretion of the pastor, they will only allow private prayer sessions.
Baptisms, confessions, marriages, and funerals will take place as usual but with due regard for the limitation of participants and reasonable social distancing.
FULL COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS
DIOCESE OF CAMDEN:
All public weekday and Sunday masses will be canceled regardless of whether or not fewer than 50 people attend the service.
“Generally speaking, it is the older faithful who are most vulnerable that usually attend,” Bishop Sullivan explained specifically in a press release.
Gov. Phil Murphy officially restricted non-essental closures to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 disease Monday. The move prompted critical eyes towards other environments that many typically visit in larger numbers.
All priests in the Diocese of Camden will celebrate mass privately in the meantime.
Baptisms, confirmation celebrations, weddings, and funerals are allowed to take place as long as each event has no more than 50 participants in attendance.
Adoration will still be observed for certain times each day, but faithful attendees are asked to be mindful of social distancing.
Penance, which is held individually, will continue as the pastor sees fit. Lenten penance is canceled due to the nature of its service.
Holy week has not yet been decided upon as Diocese of Camden leaders monitor the ongoing COVID-19 developments.
“As this is a fluid situation, I ask for your patience and perseverance,” Bishop Dennis Sullivan added. “No one knows how long the restrictions imposed on New Jersey residents will last. We will provide updates and resources as they become available.”
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