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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Covington Archdiocese Now Suspending Public Mass, Others Moving It Online

Ann Thompson
Cincinnati Catholics, seen here at St. Peter in Chains in 2018, now have to watch mass online because of the coronavirus.

The Diocese of Covington has now joined Cincinnati, Louisville and Lexington in suspending public masses because of the coronavirus. The change in policy for Covington will be effective Friday.

Diocese of Covington Spokeswoman Laura Keener referred WVXU to its website. That's where Bishop Roger Foys says:

"To suspend the public celebration of the Eucharist and other sacraments is the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my 47 years as a priest and 18 years as a bishop. I make it with a heavy heart and with profound sadness. I encourage all our faithful to continue to pray at home and to make a Spiritual Communion often. I know many of the faithful will be disappointed and perhaps even angry, at being denied access to the most Holy Eucharist. I don’t blame you. I’ve received numerous messages from people who are distraught that we might have to take this action as well as messages from people who feel we are being negligent in not cancelling everything. This is not an easy time and does not have an easy solution. Decisions must be made on fact and in faith taking into account all of God’s people. Human respect cannot play a part in such weighty decisions."

Bishop Foys has suspended public mass, the celebration of the sacraments and other public forms of worhip indefinitely. He is also limiting funerals, burial ceremonies and already scheduled weddings to 10 participants.

Catholic Churches In Ohio

Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr chairs the Catholic Conference of Ohio and put out this statement:

"After serious consideration of the grave health risk involved in public gatherings and in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, the bishops of Ohio have decided, effective immediately, to suspend temporarily all publicly celebrated Masses/liturgies, at least through the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter. The bishops of Ohio dispense the Catholic faithful who reside in their respective dioceses and all other Catholics currently in Ohio from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass through Easter Sunday. This decision is not taken lightly and, as your bishops, causes us great sadness. However, after consultation with the governor and health officials we are convinced that this is the most prudent and necessary action."

The Cincinnati Archdiocese will be live-streaming daily and weekend masses from St. Peter in Chains on its website and Facebookpage. Daily mass is online at 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday mass will be live-streamed at 11 a.m.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.