Archdiocese suspends Masses beginning Saturday because of coronavirus worries

The Archdiocese of Chicago is indefinitely suspending Mass at its churches in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cardinal Blase Cupich “mandated the suspension until further notice of all liturgical services effective Saturday evening,” the Archdiocese said in a statement Friday morning.

The decision was based on the guidelines spelled out Thursday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker mandating the cancellation of large public gatherings, according to the statement.

Also Friday, the Archdiocese said it was canceling classes at all of its Cook and Lake County schools starting Monday until further notice.

“This was not a decision I made lightly,” Cupich said in the statement. “The Eucharist is the source and summit of our life as Catholics. And our schools and agencies provide essential services to many thousands across Cook and Lake Counties. But, in consultation with leaders from across the archdiocese, for the sake of the safety of our students, parishioners, and all the women and men who serve the people of the archdiocese, it is clear that we must take the better part of caution in order to slow the spread of this pandemic.”

Weddings and funerals scheduled for Saturday are not affected, but will be limited to 250 people or less, according to the statement.

Although public Mass is suspended, churches will remain open for private prayer during times determined by each pastor.

In the meantime, the Archdiocese encouraged parishes to broadcast their masses online as “opportunities for the faithful to remain connected in some way to the Sacrifice of the Mass during this difficult time,” according to the statement.

On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said there were 32 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, and mandated that all events with more than 1,000 people be canceled or postponed.