To the faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver:
Today the bishops of Colorado made the decision to cancel public Masses to at least the end of March. We have heard from many of you who support the decision, and also from those who do not. I hope this letter will offer some insight into why we are taking this action.
The decision was not an easy one as the three of us love the Eucharist and it is the center of our lives and realize that is true for most Catholics. However, after talking with many different doctors and health experts over the last couple of months and doing a lot of reading on the virus, we learned how easily it is transmitted, and how dangerous it can be to the elderly and those with medical conditions.
The fact is that one person attending a public gathering can transmit it to many, and even though we tell people not to come to Mass if they have any symptoms, we know that some might still come not knowing they are infected. Every hour things are changing on the virus and the number of cases continues to rise, and sadly we have had the first death in Colorado. Whole countries have taken this precaution earlier. Also, the countries who isolated and quarantined early are the ones dealing best with the virus. With all this data the three bishops concluded the prudent and charitable decision was to cancel Masses for the common good.
The Churches will remain open so people can pray and visit the Blessed Sacrament. Priests are aware that they are to hear Confessions if necessary and anoint the sick even if they have the virus. Priests will continue to celebrate private Masses and religious communities will have Masses. Funerals will continue to take place, but only with family members. Weddings may continue too, but only with family members.
All of us during this time must limit our contact with one another and follow the recommendations of those in the medical field who know best how to contain the virus. It is best for families to stay at home, work from home if they can, and only go out for essential and urgent matters.
The most important part for us as Catholics is to pray for those suffering from the virus, for those in the medical profession, and to seek the intervention of our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph to bring a rapid end to the virus. I encourage you to spend time in prayer as a family, in private, and to pray the prayer designated by Pope Francis or the Novena to Our Lady of Monte Berico beginning on March 16 and concluding on March 25 for the Solemnity of the Annunciation.
The archdiocese will continue to provide updates on our website: https://www.archden.org/coronavirus
May our Lord fill you with his peace at this time!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila