"Whereas retail stores sent in safety plans, had them approved by the City, and then resumed indoor retail at 50% capacity. And yet, churches can be safer environments than stores,' Cordileone noted.
In a letter to San Francisco's Mayor London Breed and other city officials, Cordileone last week 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.
He 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, and no coronavirus outbreaks have yet been linked to the celebration of the Mass.
"Catholics have developed responsible safety protocols to conduct the Mass safely. The evidence shows these protocols are working," Cordileone told CNA.
"San Francisco's excessive limits on the Mass are not only a violation of Americans' First Amendment rights, they show a kind of callous unconcern for our parishioners' emotional and spiritual needs."
In a July 30 memo, Cordileone exhorted his priests to be as diligent as possible in bringing the sacraments to their people, including celebrating outdoor Masses each Sunday, and providing Confession in a safe manner as often as possible.
"Please regularly remind people to follow the safety practices necessary to curb the spread of the virus. This is real, it is dangerous, and it has to be taken seriously," he added.
"The resurgence is due in no small part to people becoming lax once the shelter-in-place rules began to be lifted. Please urge these practices upon them; absolutely do not give them the impression that the coronavirus is not a serious threat to the physical health of our community."
The Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship, which provides liturgical resources in the archdiocese, shared a petition Aug. 31 in support of Cordileone's statement calling for the lifting of restrictions on the Mass. To date more than 1,400 people have signed.
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