Rome, Italy, Mar 8, 2020 / 12:30 pm
The Diocese of Rome has canceled all public Masses until April 3 in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The announcement by the vicar general of the diocese, published Sunday evening, follows a decree by the Italian government suspending all public religious ceremonies.
“The Church of Rome … assumes an attitude of full responsibility towards the community in the awareness that protection from contagion requires even drastic measures, especially in interpersonal contact. Therefore, until the same date of April 3, the communal liturgical celebrations are suspended,” Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of Rome, said in a statement March 8.
“The season of Lent helps us to live this great trial evangelically. I bless you by entrusting you all to Our Lady of Divine Love,” the vicar general said.
Priests living in Rome and Vatican City can continue to offer Mass in private. Parishes in Rome will remain open for personal prayer before the tabernacle, the diocese said.
The announcement by the Rome diocese mirrors national action adopted by the Italian bishops’ conference.
The conference also issued a statement March 8 explaining that the Italian government’s decree “suspends civil and religious ceremonies, including funeral ceremonies, throughout the country until Friday, 3 April.”
“The interpretation provided by the government strictly includes the Holy Masses and the funeral rites among the ‘religious ceremonies.’ It is a highly restrictive passage, the reception of which coincides with suffering and difficulty among the pastors, priests and faithful,“ the bishops said.
“The acceptance of the decree is mediated solely by the desire to do its part, also in this situation, to contribute to the protection of public health,” the conference stated.