Diocese: ‘Suspension of all public Masses remains…’ for now

The Diocese of Erie is moving into the yellow phase and working on a reopening plan.

Bishop Lawrence Persico announced that the diocese would “take a gradual approach to restoring public worship in northwest Pennsylvania.”

For now, “the suspension of all public Masses remains in effect.”

Public Masses have been suspended since March 17.

“The dispensation from Sunday and holy day Mass obligations remains in place,” Persico said. “A dispensation from the Easter Duty of sacramental confession is granted throughout the diocese.”

Masses will continue, where feasible, to be live-streamed daily and on Sundays.

“Spiritual Communion will continue to be strongly encouraged,” Persico said. “Regular pastoral visits to hospitals and to the home-bound remain suspended.”

Priests and deacons, but not lay ministers, may make emergency sacramental visits to the home-bound. As of Sunday, pastors also are now able to determine how and when to schedule periods of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and confessions.

Priests will be getting together within their regions over the next two weeks to discuss the next steps, Persico said, including how to make the Eucharist available.

Persico will host a virtual town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21. “Parishioners will be invited to sign up for the event through Zoom beginning next week and will be able to submit questions by email for the bishop.”

“I know people are longing to return to Mass and, especially, to receive the Eucharist,” Persico said. “Protocols are complex, and I do not want to begin opening and then have to pull back again. It’s my intention to lift restrictions gradually so that we don’t create dangerous situations for our parishioners or our priests, and that we don’t contribute to a spike in COVID-19 cases.”

“So, while we are able to offer adoration and confession effective May 10, we also are working on how we might be able to at least offer Communion services in the near future,” Persico said.

“I know many people are expecting us to open the doors and return to life as we knew it,” Persico said. “But as much as we all are eagerly anticipating that situation, the reality is we must proceed with caution.”


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