This is by far one of the most difficult communications I have ever written because of the impact it will have on the spiritual and faith lives of so many of us.
Today, March 16, 2020, Governor Kate Brown announced new directives governing the social gathering of people in the State of Oregon. Beginning tomorrow gatherings are not to exceed 25 people for the next four weeks.
At the same time, although she did not make it the law, she urged that such gatherings be kept under 10 people. Earlier today, President Trump made a similar recommendation that gatherings not exceed 10 people. I suspect that at some point 10 people will become the law.
In light of this, it becomes impossible for us to manage a schedule of Masses in the parishes and missions of the Archdiocese observing this 10 to 25 limit. With a very heavy heart, I am therefore announcing the cancellation of all public Masses in the Archdiocese of Portland beginning tomorrow through April 14, 2020. At the same time, I am dispensing all of the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation for the same period of time.
This will be particularly hard because this will take us through Holy Week and Easter.
Further information, direction, suggestions, pastoral guidance etc. will be forthcoming as we navigate together these uncharted waters. For now, I felt it urgent to let you know of this necessary decision. I will be reminding the priests of the importance for them to still offer daily Mass, though not publicly, for the good of the faithful and for an end to this crisis.
I am sorry beyond words to have to make this decision. It is very painful for me to do so. In the midst of this we must remember that the Holy Eucharist remains the source and summit of the Christian life.
May our hunger for the Mass and the Body of Christ be a source of grace for us.
*Archbishop Alexander Sample is the eleventh archbishop of Portland, Oregon