April 28, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Yesterday, 27 April 2020, Governor Mike DeWine presented a strategy to begin a multi-phased plan, even while the executive “Stay at Home Order” remains in place. His plan begins a process for Ohioans gradually to return to work and daily activity and provides hope and evidence that our cooperation with the governor’s orders has significantly curbed the spread of the virus. We thank you for and admire the patience, cooperation and understanding you have already shown during this COVID-19 pandemic. We realize the frustration, sadness, and loss the faithful felt not to be able to gather personally to celebrate the Paschal Mysteries during the Sacred Triduum
and each Sunday. During this time of sacrifice and longing, we have joined our prayers and hearts to yours, trusting that God will see us through this pandemic and reunite us at the Eucharistic Feast. Out of deep concern for the common good as well as the physical and spiritual well-being of all the people of Ohio, the Catholic Bishops of Ohio have agreed once again to cooperate with the governor, and to support and abide by the multi-phased approach to returning to work and eventual public gathering in large groups.
To that end, the Catholic Bishops of Ohio extend the temporary suspension of all publicly celebrated Masses/liturgies ending on May 29th, with the hope of publicly celebrating together the Solemnity of Pentecost on the weekend of May 30/31. Each of the bishops of Ohio, once again, dispense the Catholic faithful who reside in their respective dioceses and all other Catholics currently in their territories from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass during this time. We ask for the cooperation and adherence of all the faithful to the governor’s directives during this period.
We will be working diligently with our pastoral teams to consider reasonable, gradual and responsible initiatives for welcoming back the faithful in time to Sunday Mass, initiatives which will renew our love for the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and which will help us to restore Catholic life and invite others to share that life after the pandemic. We encourage individual dioceses and their respective pastors and parishioners to begin to work to establish plans which respect social distancing and other requirements for the safety of our people.
This decision has not been taken lightly and, as your bishops, together with you, we recognize the sacrifice we are called to make being physically distanced from the Holy Eucharist and from one another. We remain grateful for your understanding and prayerful support. As your bishops we continue to encourage you to keep holy the Lord’s Day by participating in Sunday Mass by way of radio broadcast or televised or livestreamed options and making a spiritual communion. Keeping in mind of the gift of plenary indulgences offered to us by the Church, we encourage all the faithful to turn to the Church’s treasury of prayer, praying as a family or individually the Liturgy of the Hours, rosary, divine mercy chaplet, and Stations of the Cross, etc.
Together we continue to pray for all who are suffering from Covid-19, for all health care workers and first responders, for all the deceased and their families, and for an easing of the anxiety and tension caused by this pandemic. Relying on the Motherly care of Our Lady, Health of the Sick, we unite our sufferings to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and we trust in the glorious hope of His Resurrection.
Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati
Most Rev. Joseph R. Binzer
Auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati
Most Rev. Robert J. Brennan
Bishop of Columbus
Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton
Bishop of Steubenville
Most Rev. George V. Murry, S.J.
Bishop of Youngstown
Rev. Donald P. Oleksiak
Diocesan Administrator of Cleveland
Most Rev. Daniel E. Thomas
Bishop of Toledo
Most Rev. J. Michael Botean
Romanian Eparchy of Canton
Most Rev. Bohdan J. Danylo
Ukrainian Eparchy of St. Josaphat
Most Rev. Milan Lach, SJ
Byzantine Eparchy of Parma