Catholic diocese says members can skip weekend services

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – In a nod to concerns over the coronavirus, the Catholic Diocese of Lexington has excused members from the Sunday Mass obligation this weekend.

Weekend asses will still be celebrated, but Catholics are not obligated to attend, Bishop John Stowe said in a statement.

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“This decision was not taken lightly, as the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of the life of the Church. And especially at moments of deep concern for the common good, people of faith turn more deeply to prayer and the support that communities of faith provide,” Bishop Stowe said. “We are in communication with public health officials, and the risks of large gatherings as a means of spreading this virus are real. This is why the diocese has already adopted measures urging avoidance of contact with others at our liturgies.”

The decision comes the day after Gov. Andy Beshear urged churches to cancel Sunday services this weekend. The governor noted that during the Lenten season leading up to Easter, larger numbers of older adults attend church.

Those groups are more susceptible to the disease.

The Catholic bishop said pastors should encourage those who are ill or have symptoms to stay home as an act of charity to their fellow parishioners, and vulnerable people, especially those over the age of 60, are encouraged to stay home.

Those wishing to follow Sunday Mass from their homes can do so via Facebook livestream courtesy of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Lexington this Sunday at 9 a.m.

Daily masses, which are not as heavily attended as Sunday masses, will also continue to be offered. Catholic churches are encouraged to provide opportunities for handwashing at every mass location.