UPDATE, Nov. 9: The Catholic Diocese of El Paso on Monday said it was extending the closure of church parishes in El Paso County until further notice.
All the "suspended status" restrictions first outlined late last month will remain in effect, the diocese indicated. (See original report below for the list of those restrictions.)
“By keeping our parishes in El Paso County to suspended status, we will do our part to continue to ensure the safety of not only our Catholic Faithful, but all members of our El Paso Community,” Bishop Mark Seitz said.
He added that the diocese "continues to urge all residents of El Paso
County to remain at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus."
ORIGINAL REPORT, Oct. 26: EL PASO, Texas -- Bishop Mark Seitz on Monday afternoon announced that the El Paso Catholic Diocese will stop celebrating public Mass until at least Nov. 8 in order to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
He also said the diocese will also postpone weddings, funerals and baptisms.
The bishop's directive outlines the following:
- All church gatherings are limited to just those necessary to facilitate the gathering or live-streaming of Mass, not to exceed 10 people.
- Funerals, weddings, baptisms, and similar liturgies are postponed.
- Church meetings and classes should either be postponed or held virtually.
- Churches will be closed. Confession is available by appointment only.
In making the decision to temporarily close down El Paso's Catholic churches, Bishop Seitz expressed grave concern over the surging number of virus cases and hospitalizations in the community that has led to an overnight curfew.
“Our entire community ought to be very concerned about the unprecedented number of positive cases that have been reported over the last several weeks," he said. “This virus is a mortal threat to many and is spreading unchecked at this time. We must come together as a community
out of concern for all who are vulnerable among our families.”
The bishop said his action also reflected his belief that the Catholic church needed to lead by example amid calls by city and county leaders for El Pasoans to "stay home" except for essential work or needs.
“By returning our parishes in El Paso County to suspended status, we will do our part to ensure the safety of not only our Catholic Faithful, but all members of our El Paso Community,” Bishop Seitz explained. “I urge you to continue to pray for our entire community and especially for those who are ill at this time and for our leaders. United in love for one another we will come through these difficult times."