ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Effective immediately, Archbishop Bernard Hebda is suspending all masses held in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Archbishop Hebda dispensed Catholics from their Sunday mass obligation, but masses were still being held. Hebda says the decision to suspend all masses came after learning a priest in another U.S. diocese tested positive for COVID-19, possibly putting his parishioners at risk.
"It pains my heart to have to make this decision since I know how many of you deeply love the Mass as I do," read a statement from Hebda. "This decision will be re-evaluated in two weeks’ time in light of any local developments and the latest advice of civil authorities and experts."
Hebda says over the next two weeks, priests will be exploring possibilities for limited public celebrations of the mass that would respect the latest recommendations from health leaders.
"Knowing that so many Catholics are deeply Eucharistic in their spirituality, our priests and deacons are also committed to expanding possibilities for adoration and private prayer, moving adoration, where necessary, to larger church spaces to facilitate appropriate social distancing," wrote Hebda.
Exceptions will be granted for a funeral or wedding mass, if needed.
Hebda encourages Catholics to celebrate the mass by watching or listening to a service.
Confessions will continue to be held at churches.