PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the suspension of all public masses until further notice. This is a big change for many of the faithful.
Eyewitness News spoke with Archbishop Nelson Perez Friday morning about the coronavirus’ impact on the church.
Q: For many, it will not be a typical Sunday this week. What’s your advice for those who may be having difficulty adjusting to all the recent changes?
“Well, it certainly is unsettling, but this is the time to go into our personal prayer life, reading the scriptures and for us Catholics, the rosary. The praying of the rosary is such a source of consolation, praying together with families. Just last night, a group of young people sent me a picture of them gathering around the table praying the rosary together and praying with each other.
“This is time for families to come together in their homes.”
Q: In times of crisis people often turn to the church for comfort and to be a part of a larger community. How can people find ways to still stay spiritually connected?
“We’re blessed that this particular moment in history with social media and just last Sunday, I celebrated the 11 a.m. mass from the cathedral and we had close to 50,000 people in different venues of social media tune in.
“A lot of our parishes are streaming their daily masses every day, so I would tell the faithful to check with their parishes. These are ways that we could certainly bring consolation and peace to our hearts at a time that is very unsettling for everybody.”
Q: As a faith leader, what would you say to people, regardless of their religion, if they find themselves feeling overwhelmed or especially anxious right now?
“I think it is so important to pick up the phone and call your friends, to air out a little bit of what’s in the heart and what’s troubling your heart. That’s why God gave us friends and family.
“We may not be able to be in contact with them physically but we could certainly be in contact with them through the phone. Just pick up the phone and support each other.”
Q: It seems like there could potentially be some changes leading up to Holy Week services at the Vatican. Have you heard anything, and are you beginning to consider how services may need to be different here?
“We are certainly looking at everything right now. Again, availing ourselves with the gift of technology and social media. People can’t go to church right now for mass, so our biggest question is how do we then bring the church to people?
“We are discussing all sorts of venues. We just finished an online rosary for six days or seven days, we had over 1,000 people coming in and praying together.
“So certainly, God has given this blessing of technology and the media itself.”