GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – All the bishops in Pennsylvania have decided to dispense the obligation to attend Mass.
The Pittsburgh Diocese released a statement, saying in part:
“Following a joint conference call with all the bishops of Pennsylvania, effective immediately and until further notice, I wish to share with you that in union with all my brother bishops I am dispensing the faithful of the Diocese of Pittsburgh from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
Despite the suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, all regularly scheduled Masses will remain open to the public for those who wish to attend.
Regarding other sacramental events, such as confirmation, further announcements will be forthcoming in the near future.
With this announcement, it is most important that we increase our personal prayer and fasting as we look to God as our strength in this critical time.”
The Greensburg Diocese also released a statement, saying in full:
“Effective immediately, and until further notice, Bishop Malesic in union with the Bishops of Pennsylvania, has dispensed the faithful of the Diocese of Greensburg from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.
Despite the suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, all regularly scheduled Masses will remain open to the public for those who wish to attend.”
As of Thursday afternoon, there are 22 cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania — all in the eastern part of the state.
“This is not a normal time, and we have to be in a position where we are taking great care to avoid a catastrophe,” noted Catholic Bishop David Zubik on Thursday.
Obviously, this is a very fluid situation with every religion contacted changing their guidance hour by hour.
Those with particular concerns should contact their houses of worship.
Meanwhile, other Christian churches are announcing suspensions of Sunday services.
On Thursday, the Anglican Church of the Ascension in Oakland announced it was suspending its religious services for the next three weeks.
“We have a large congregation with some 500 people on a Sunday morning,” the Rev. Canon Jonathan Millard told KDKA’s Jon Delano.
“That’s a lot of people gathered together, and there may be some asymptomatic people there who unbeknownst to anybody are spreading this virus.”
Other churches are doing the same.
The First Baptist Church of New Castle made a similar announcement suspending services until April 5.
“We are taking this preemptive and preventative measure in an effort to keep our most vulnerable members and visitors safe,” said Mike Willmer, Lead Pastor.
The Methodist bishop is leaving it up to local churches, while the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has no plans to suspend services although it has implemented a number of health measures at church.