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March 25, 2020

Archdiocese of Philadelphia cancels Easter Sunday Mass, all Holy Week services

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has canceled all Holy Week events, including Easter Sunday Mass, the church announced Tuesday.

In a directive, the church said it is continuing the March 17 suspension of all public Masses until further notice, in light of the coronavirus epidemic. Holy Week celebrations that normally take place such as Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, are canceled, and should not be celebrated publicly by church leaders or members. 

A directive released by the Archdiocese and signed by Director of the Office for Divine Worship, Dennis Gill laid out instructions for worshipping the Holy Days differently during "these most unusual times in the life of our local church."

"The Coronavirus (COVID 19) challenges us to celebrate the Mysteries of Christ for the glory of the Father," the directive wrote."And our sanctification with reasonable limitations and in cooperation with directives from government and health officials to stem the spread of the virus." 

While all public celebrations are cancelled, the release by local Catholic Church leaders affirmed that priests will hold Mass on these days, in private. 

Churches remain open but on a modified schedule. 

"There is an urgent need for the Church to be a place of refuge and comfort for the faithful with open churches," read the directive. "If it becomes necessary to close our churches, then this directive will be updated."

The announcement comes one day after President Trump was criticized for saying in a White House press briefing Tuesday “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter."

Easter Sunday takes place on April 12 this year, with Holy Week beginning on April 5.

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