Concerns about the coronavirus outbreak have led the head of the Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas to release Catholics from the area from their obligation to attend Sunday mass for the next three weekends.
In a letter released Friday, Bishop George L. Thomas noted to the health authorities that the virus “continues to spread through face-to-face contact, particularly affecting elderly and medically vulnerable members of our ward”.
In order to “mitigate the spread of this disease in our community” and for what he calls “this grave and unprecedented moment,” Thomas writes, “I hereby distribute all Catholic worshipers in the Diocese of Las Vegas and Catholics within the geographic area visiting are borders of our diocese, from the obligation to attend the Sunday masses on the weekends from March 14th to 15th, March 21st to 22nd and March 28th to 29th. “
The dispensation “will be re-examined as further medical information becomes available from our local and national health authorities.”
Thomas encourages Catholics who cannot attend Mass to “stay home and read the Gospels (available at usccb.org/bible/readings), pray with their families, and join the sacrifice of Mass by You make a mass act of spiritual communion. “
Thomas also notes that the diocese has a TV mass on KFBT-TV, Channel 33, on Sundays at 7:30 a.m.
The obligation to participate in the fair is “only waived for serious reasons,” writes Thomas. “I believe the current circumstances meet these criteria.”
Sunday mass is the final step Thomas took to fight the coronavirus outbreak. On February 27, he suspended the distribution of the fellowship over the chalice and the peace exchange at the mass.
In the letter from Friday, Thomas asked the diocesan pastors to continue celebrating regular masses and to take precautionary measures to avoid the transmission of the coronavirus. He also asked pastors to seek protection from illness and blessings for families who have witnessed the death of loved ones, as well as “special blessings” for doctors, nurses, health care providers, public health officials, and citizens during mass prayers.