Please pray for an end to this coronavirus outbreak!
Coronavirus cases in Italy increased over the weekend, with more than 220 confirmed cases and six deaths. Italy has the highest number of confirmed cases in Europe.
Diocesan leaders took precautionary measures to prevent the further spread of the virus, including suspending Masses and asking the faithful to receive communion in the hand.
The Archdiocese of Milan suspended all Masses starting on the evening of Feb. 23, until further notice. The Milan Cathedral also announced its closure on Feb. 24 and 25, until authorities further evaluate the severity of the situation. However, the prayer area remains open.
Patriarch of Venice Archbishop Francesco Moraglia also suspended Masses and other liturgical celebrations in Venice until Mar. 1.
Catholic News Agency reported that Arb. Moraglia “invites the faithful to ‘dedicate a convenient time to prayer and meditation’ in place of Mass on Ash Wednesday.”
Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia cancelled all gatherings in the Diocese of Turin from Feb. 24-Mar. 1, but will continue celebrating Mass. He requested Catholics to also receive communion in the hand and refrain from exchanging the sign of peace.
Other bishops in the Emilia-Romagna and Liguria regions of Italy also cancelled Masses and parish events this week.
Italian Bishops Release Statement
The Italian bishops released a Feb. 24 statement addressing the outbreak.
Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve Cardinal Gualterio Bassett wrote that the Italian Bishops’ Conference “feels the duty of full collaboration with the competent state and regional authorities to contain the epidemic risk.”
The bishops added that they “renew Pope Francis’ prayer of closeness to those affected by the virus and their families; prayer for doctors and nurses from healthcare facilities, called to face this emergency at the frontier; prayer for those responsible for taking precautionary and restrictive measures.”
“We are committed to doing our part to reduce bewilderment and fear,” Cardinal Bassett said. “This is the time to find reasons for realism, trust and hope, which allow us to face this difficult situation together.”