The Catholic Bishops of Ohio have suspended all Publicly Celebrated Masses thru Easter


March 16, 2020

RE: Catholic Bishops of Ohio Suspend All Publicly Celebrated Masses/Liturgies

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

After serious consideration of the grave health risk involved in public gatherings and in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the bishops of Ohio have decided, effective immediately, to suspend temporarily all publicly celebrated Masses/liturgies, at least through the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter. The bishops of Ohio dispense the Catholic faithful who reside in their respective dioceses and all other Catholics currently in Ohio from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass through Easter Sunday.

This decision is not taken lightly and, as your bishops, causes us great sadness. However, after consultation with the governor and health officials we are convinced that this is the most prudent and necessary action.

Science has proven that participation in public gatherings significantly increases the risk of contagion. This poses a serious danger to those especially most vulnerable.

As Catholics, in every Sunday Mass we celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord. The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. In this moment, we are experiencing in a unique way the passion of our Lord as this pandemic prevents us from gathering for the Sunday Eucharist. In this very difficult time, we encourage the faithful to turn to the Church’s treasury of prayer. Sunday remains a holy day, and we encourage the faithful to pray using the rich resources of our faith, including praying as a family or individually the rosary, divine mercy chaplet, the Liturgy of the Hours, stations of the cross, etc. We also urge you to participate in prayer by way of radio broadcast or televised or livestreamed Mass and make a spiritual communion.

Please join us in praying for all who are suffering from illness or disease of any kind, for all health care workers, and for an easing of the anxiety and tension caused by this situation. Relying on the motherly care of Our Lady, we unite our sufferings to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our healing and our hope.

Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr
Chairman Catholic Conference of Ohio
Archbishop of Cincinnati

Most Rev. Joseph R. Binzer
Auxiliary Bishop
Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Most Rev. Robert J. Brennan
Bishop of Columbus

Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton
Bishop of Steubenville

Most Rev. George V. Murry, S.J.
Bishop of Youngstown

Rev. Donald P. Oleksiak
Diocesan Administrator of Cleveland

Most Rev. Daniel E. Thomas
Bishop of Toled

Liturgical Changes Effective Immediately
by Order of the Diocese of Cleveland

Due to the potential spread of the CoronaVirus (COVID-19), the Diocese of Cleveland has ordered all Pastors to observe the following changes at all Parishes effective immediately:

1. Liturgical Ministers are reminded to wash their hands with soap and water prior to Mass
2. The distribution of the Precious Blood at Mass is suspended. As
Catholics, our faith tells us that the whole of Christ, that is his Body and Blood, is present when only the host is received.
3. The Sign of Peace is suspended at all Masses. The invitation to
exchange a Sign of Peace has always been optional at the Catholic Mass.
4. All Holy Water is to be drained from blessing fonts and baptismal
Holy Water will not be available until directed by the Diocese of Cleveland.
These directives should not arouse a panic in anyone. These are just
preemptive steps to avoid the potential spread of the CoronaVirus. As
always, we must remain thoughtful and vigilant in our health practices. We must maintain good hygiene, and those who are sick should stay home and tend to their health.
If or when I receive further directives that may impact you regarding this situation, I will make you aware of them.
The Reverend Edward J. Smith