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Celebration of Mass in Response to COVID-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2020 

PRIESTS IN DIOCESE TO CONTINUE CELEBRATION OF MASS;
MASS NO LONGER AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

(MANCHESTER, NH) The Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester, announced today that priests in the Diocese of Manchester are to continue to celebrate daily and Sunday Mass in accordance with Canon law, which requires that the intention for any announced Mass as well as a weekly Mass Pro Populo (for all the people of the parish) is satisfied.

However, attendance at Mass will not be available to the general public. Pastors have been encouraged to have their churches open for extended hours of prayer and when appropriate, extended hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Diocese of Manchester has taken this step in response to growing public concern and following Governor Sununu’s Emergency Order prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more people.

“It pains me terribly to have to make this decision,” Bishop Libasci said, “but we are mindful of our obligation to protect the most vulnerable and protect the common good.”

With regard to the Sunday obligation, by which Catholics are required to attend weekly Mass, Bishop Libasci said, “Given the serious nature of the pandemic and the fact that Mass will not be available to the general public, the obligation is impossible to fulfill and so it is automatically lifted and cannot be binding. This is the official teaching of the Church.”

The Catholic faithful of New Hampshire are encouraged to participate in live broadcast Mass from EWTN, Boston Catholic Television, or other internet livestreams. Families and individuals are encouraged to make the viewing of Mass a priority at home.

The Diocese of Manchester is monitoring the situation closely and is following the recommendations provided by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in regard to COVID-19. We recognize that this is a rapidly evolving situation and will continue to update the public as new information becomes available via the diocesan website: www.catholicnh.org/coronavirus.

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The Diocese of Manchester is the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire, serving the needs of nearly 235,000 Catholics. For more information, please visit www.catholicnh.org/overview.