CNA Staff, Aug 31, 2020 / 14:30 pm
In a letter to San Francisco's Mayor London Breed and other city officials, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on Monday called on the city’s secular authorities to, “at a minimum, remove the excessive limits on outdoor public worship.”
“Particularly for us as Catholics, attending the Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in person is the source and the summit of our faith, and we have shown we can celebrate the Mass safely,” Cordileone wrote Aug. 31.
The San Francisco County Department of Health is currently limiting outdoor worship services to 12 people, with indoor worship services prohibited. The archdiocese covers the city and county of San Francisco— where the cathedral is located— as well as San Mateo and Marin counties.
Cordileone called the city’s restrictions on outdoor Masses “a serious deprivation of our rights as Americans under the First Amendment and our spiritual needs as people of faith.”
“San Francisco is the only government in the entire Bay Area that restricts public gatherings to 12 people out of doors. Ours and others’ faith is being treated as less important than a trip to the
hardware store, or a nice dinner out on the patio,” Cordileone stated.
Cordileone cited a recent article on Mass attendance and COVID-19, authored Aug. 19 by doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak for Real Clear Science.
Over the last 14 weeks, the doctors said, approximately 17,000 parishes have held three or more Masses each weekend, as well as daily services, combining to equal more than 1 million public Masses celebrated across the United States since shelter-in-place orders were lifted.
By following public health guidelines, these Masses have largely avoided viral spread. The doctors said in their article that there is no evidence that church services are higher risk than similar activities when guidelines are followed.
“One million public Masses without any [COVID-19] outbreaks demonstrates that it is just as safe in San Francisco as in other parts of the state, such as San Mateo County, to permit large gatherings for outdoor public worship with reasonable safety precautions,” Cordileone commented.