Philadelphia-area dioceses suspend public Masses during coronavirus closures

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Diocese of Camden and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia are suspending public weekday and Sunday Masses in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Both Govs. Tom Wolf and Phil Murphy ordered non-essential businesses across Pennsylvania and New Jersey to temporarily for at least two weeks.

The dioceses are closed until further notice.

In a statement, the Diocese of Camden said it is suspending Masses because the majority of its church-goers are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

The dioceses will make exceptions for baptisms, confirmations and weddings, if attendance is under 50 people. 

Camden priests will also continue to visit the sick, but they will take “all necessary germ protection precautions in place at an individual’s home, nursing home or hospital.” Archdiocese visitations, however, are suspended.

Funerals may take place in area parishes, again, keeping social distancing in mind.

Essential offices will remain operational in Camden.

“All of us need to do our part to slow the spread of this illness,” Archbishop Nelson Pérez said in a statement. “I invite you to join me in prayerful solidarity for the intentions of the sick, suffering, and their caregivers as well as government and health officials.”

1/8 UPDATE RE: Masses in @ArchPhilly : As the Archbishop of Philadelphia, my first priority is to ensure the health and welfare of those entrusted to the pastoral and temporal care of our Church. #COVID19 #coronavirus

— Archbishop Nelson Perez (@ArchbishopPerez) March 17, 2020

Perez emphasized he is not ordering the closing of churches.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s suspension of public Masses goes into effect Wednesday at noon.

Future Masses will also be livestreamed in Camden and Philadelphia.

At this point, Camden Bishop Dennis Sullivan said the diocese is monitoring the situation and has made no decisions regarding the observance of Holy Week and Easter in April.

Church leaders in Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Phoenix have announced similar measures.