CNA Staff, Mar 31, 2020 / 11:00 am
The Archdiocese of Baltimore has closed all churches to private prayer and instructed priests to only offer sacraments in cases of “impending death.”
The decision, announced Monday by Archbishop William Lori, is in response to the “Stay-at-Home” directive issued by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on March 30.
“Like Governor Hogan, I want to take every precaution and every step necessary to ensure the health of the people we serve,” Archbishop Lori said on Monday.
Under the stay-at-home order, all Marylanders are instructed to remain in their homes and may only leave for certain reasons, such as daily exercise, travelling for medical reasons, going to the grocery store and conducting other “essential” business.
Churches and other houses of worship are not classified as “essential” by the Maryland order.
As a result, the Archdiocese of Baltimore announced that all church buildings and offices in the archdiocese are to close, and priests are to cease the regular distribution of all sacraments, including confessions, until further notice. Until Monday, churches in the Baltimore archdiocese were permitted to open for private prayer, but only to for 10 people or less at a time.
“While no bishop wants to ever close a church to one seeking closeness to God," Lori said, "I pray that in doing so we prevent further suffering, further death and will be closer to the day when we can reopen our church doors to the people we so deeply love and miss.”
In a Facebook post on the official account for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, it was clarified that there would be no sacraments at this time and that priests were not allowed to privately meet with parishioners.