Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Friday 24 September |
The Blessed Virgin Mary—Our Lady of Walsingham
home iconChurch
line break icon

Bishops accepting Italian government decision to cancel all public Masses, even funerals, until early April

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 03/08/20

Pope will broadcast his morning Masses as a sign of his nearness to victims of Coronavirus; March 11 a day of fasting and prayer

Pope Francis’ daily Mass from Casa Santa Marta will be livestreamed as of Monday, March 9. Pope Francis made this decision so as to be closer to those who are ill, in quarantine or, for whatever reason, unable to leave their homes.

Italy has enacted quarantine measures for as many as 16 million people, with anyone living in Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces needing special permission to travel.

The Italian government has also ordered the closure of all cinemas, museums and theaters.

The Italian bishops’ conference issued a statement on March 8, saying that the Italian government’s decree “suspends civil and religious ceremonies, including funeral ceremonies, throughout the country until Friday, 3 April.”

The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said, when replying to questions from journalists, that “due to the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus, the Holy Father has decided that the private Masses celebrated by him in the Casa Santa Marta be broadcast live in the coming days.”

As of Sunday evening, the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Italy had risen from 233 on Saturday to 366, officials have said. The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 7,375 – up from 5,883 on Saturday.


Read more:
A tour of the Santa Marta chapel where Francis has daily Mass

Thus, the Diocese of Rome has also suspended all public Masses, including funerals, until early April.

“Until the same date of April 3, the communal liturgical celebrations are suspended,” Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, vicar general of Rome, said in a statement March 8, citing an “awareness that protection from contagion requires even drastic measures, especially in interpersonal contact.”

Churches will stay open so that the faithful may pray at the tabernacle; priests will of course continue to celebrate Mass in private.

“The season of Lent helps us to live this great trial evangelically. I bless you by entrusting you all to Our Lady of Divine Love,” the vicar general said.

The diocese is encouraging Catholics in Rome to observe a day of fasting and prayer on March 11 for the victims of the virus.


Read more:
Mass in the time of COVID-19

Praying with the Bishop of Rome

The pope’s masses will be made available through the Vatican News portal, and distributed by Vatican Media to the media partners and to those media outlets who request it. Bruni concluded his message saying that in this way, “those who would like to follow these celebrations, praying in union with the Bishop of Rome” could do so.

Pope Francis initiated the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta at the start of his pontificate. Since then, thousands of the faithful, in small groups, have attended these Masses.

His homilies at this 7 a.m. Mass are always off the cuff and summarized by Vatican Radio.


Read more:
Coronavirus: What should Catholics do?

Before now, Pope Francis never wanted his entire morning liturgy to be available through the media. A few weeks after Pope Francis’ election, Father Federico Lombardi, in his role as Director of the Holy See Press Office, explained why. “It is necessary to keep in mind the character the Holy Father himself attributed to the morning celebration of the Mass at Santa Marta,” he said. “It is a Mass with a group of the faithful present in which the pope wants to preserve a family character. Thus, notwithstanding the requests received, he has explicitly desired that they not be transmitted live in video or audio.”

In this case, Pope Francis has consented to the live broadcast of the morning liturgy in light of the emergency being experienced in these days, so as to be near to the families and to all those who are suffering.


Read more:
Nun healed at Lourdes meets with pope at Santa Marta

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
Philip Kosloski
An alternative Hail Mary to Our Lady of Sorrows
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Bret Thoman, OFS
A journey to the shrine of St. Padre Pio
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.