Tucson Catholic Diocese ends public Masses; limits attendance at weddings, funerals

Tucson Catholic Diocese ends public Masses; limits attendance at weddings, funerals

From the Tucson-area coronavirus coverage from January to March: Nearly 1,300 cases in Arizona, stay-at-home order series

People crowd St. Augustine Cathedral during a Mass for Father Raul Valencia, on Feb. 11, 2020. 

The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson announced Monday that there will be no more public Masses, including Sunday Mass, at least through April 6.

Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger updated diocesan protocols, consistent with those of the Dioceses of Phoenix and Gallup, which also have parishes in Arizona:

  • Urging Catholics to observe Sunday by spending additional time in prayer, observing a Catholic Mass via television or internet, or doing other pious practices.
  • Weddings should be restricted to 10 people, and if Mass is celebrated only the bride and groom, if Catholic, are to receive Holy Communion.
  • Funeral Masses should be restricted to 10 people, and the congregation should not receive Holy Communion.
  • Mass of the Holy Oils, "Chrism Mass," will be celebrated privately with holy oils to be distributed privately to priests.
  • Confirmations scheduled during this period are suspended and will be rescheduled.
  • No public church events or gatherings should be held, such as parish religious education programs, Stations of the Cross, communion services, quinceañeras, parish missions or dinners. 

Weisenburger said the directives will be reviewed on April 6 and either ended or extended. The Tucson diocese covers nine counties in mostly Southern Arizona and serves more than 300,000 Catholics. 

Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger 

"I believe these directives, while a hardship and deeply regrettable for us all, are sensible, substantially consistent with directives for the other Catholic diocese in Arizona, and in line with the spirit of public health directives," said the bishop.

Weisenburger said that the leaders of local parishes are to make final decisions on parish offices remaining open or closing in accordance with local government directives and diocesan guidelines.

"It is my hope that the work of parish employees and ministers may continue in some format and parish offices not close entirely," he said.

Pastors with questions about parish employment issues can contact the diocesan Office of Human Resources.

For the latest protocols, go to https://diocesetucson.org/stayhealthy

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@tucson.com

Twitter: @cduartestar

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