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Arizona Catholic diocese suspends Mass again after local ‘spike’ in coronavirus cases

The bishop advised Catholics in the diocese to 'join with your local parish for televised or internet Masses, or log onto the Diocese of Tucson web page and join me for daily Mass.'
Thu Jul 2, 2020 - 11:17 am EST
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Bishop Edward Weisenburger in a video informing the faithful he is again cancelling public Masses Diocese of Tucson / YouTube screenshot

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ARIZONA, July 2, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The Diocese of Tucson in Arizona has become the first Catholic diocese in the U.S. to suspend public worship once more, following a reported “spike” in coronavirus cases in the state.

“I wish to inform you that after a careful review of the medical situation, and hearing the recent concerns of our Governor and civic leaders on television, I have been advised by Diocesan leadership to suspend public worship,” Bishop Edward Weisenburger wrote in a statement published yesterday.

Weisenburger said that he agreed with the advice and that suspension of public worship was going into effect immediately.

“This returns us temporarily to those protocols we were following just prior to the reopening of our parishes. You should anticipate a suspension of approximately four weeks but the matter will be reviewed daily and the suspension could be for a shorter or longer duration,” he continued.

Arizona’s state governor, Republican Doug Ducey, has ordered the closure of bars, nightclubs, gyms, cinemas, and water parks and banned gatherings of more than 50 people, with media reporting that the state recently recorded nearly 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day. 

Ducey told a press briefing earlier this week that the “expectation is that our numbers next week will be worse” and that the state would not be “going back to normal any time soon."

Weisenburger also published a video announcing the suspension of public services in the diocese, where he removed a face mask before he began speaking and put it back on again at the end of his address, despite seemingly being indoors and alone.

The bishop advised Catholics in the diocese to “join with your local parish for televised or internet Masses, or log onto the Diocese of Tucson web page and join me for daily Mass.” 

Some provision for the faithful to receive the sacraments will continue, with Weisenburger explaining that “where it is safe, pastors will arrange for an outdoor distribution of Holy Communion after members of the faithful have observed a Mass via technology. Confessions will be heard only out-of-doors. The only public Masses will be funerals and weddings, and with a limit of ten persons in the congregation.”

“Let us pray that this suspension is brief and that we can soon be in one another’s company.  Let us also be unified in our resolve to lead the way in battling this pandemic. The witness and example of our lives and the intensity of our prayers will surely help to heal the world,” Weisenburger concluded his message.

FULL STATEMENT ON THE SUSPENSION OF PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE DIOCESE OF TUCSON, ARIZONA, EFFECTIVE JULY 1ST, 2020

July 1, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

I wish to inform you that after a careful review of the medical situation, and hearing the recent concerns of our Governor and civic leaders on television, I have been advised by Diocesan leadership to suspend public worship. I agree with their recommendation and the suspension of public worship is effective as of today, July 1 st, 2020.  This returns us temporarily to those protocols we were following just prior to the reopening of our parishes.  You should anticipate a suspension of approximately four weeks but the matter will be reviewed daily and the suspension could be for a shorter or longer duration.   

Those who follow national news are aware that the State of Arizona has been referenced across the nation for our substantial spike in Covid-19 cases.  When the pandemic began I stressed that a primary factor on reopening would be the ability of our hospitals and medical personnel to respond adequately to the sick.  Members of the medical community—who daily place themselves at great risk to serve us—are now telling us that we are at a crisis point.  I believe that we owe it these noble men and women to do our part in bringing the pandemic under control.  

For now let us be committed to journeying in solidarity with the sick, the suffering, the unemployed, the frightened, and the healthcare workers who must daily face this pandemic without flinching.  Join with your local parish for televised or internet Masses, or log onto the Diocese of Tucson web page and join me for daily Mass. The protocols we instituted for our parishes at the time of our reopening were sensible, thorough, and implemented with care and sensitivity. When we are able to open up once again these protocols will be reinstated. But for now, where it is safe, pastors will arrange for an outdoor distribution of Holy Communion after members of the faithful have observed a Mass via technology.  Confessions will be heard only out-of-doors.  The only public Masses will be funerals and weddings, and with a limit of ten persons in the congregation.   

I wish to express my deep gratitude for the clergy and parish ministers who have responded so very well throughout the pandemic.  They are extraordinary men and women and their fidelity to you and intense desire to be of service is a witness to the grace of their vocation.  

Let us pray that this suspension is brief and that we can soon be in one another’s company.  Let us also be unified in our resolve to lead the way in battling this pandemic.  The witness and example of our lives and the intensity of our prayers will surely help to heal the world. 

May God bless you abundantly, 

+Edward J. Weisenburger 
Bishop of Tucson 


  arizona, catholic, coronavirus, diocese of tuscon, edward weisenburger

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