SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — While he didn’t order that Sunday mass be cancelled, San Francisco Catholic Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone on Friday asked priests within the archdiocese to shorten services as much as possible and to give abbreviated homilies to lessen parishioners chances of exposure to the coronavirus.

Catholic services throughout the San Francisco Bay Area had already dispense with shaking hands during the sign of peace portion of the mass and encouraged if possible social distance seating during ceremonies.

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But Archbishop Cordileone made it very clear in his memo that Sunday masses will go on as scheduled and were not subjected to local ordinances governing crowd size.

“There is to be no cancellation of regularly-scheduled Sunday and weekday Masses (the latter very rarely if ever draw more than 250 people),” he wrote. “For us as Catholics, Sunday worship is essential.”

Read The Archbishop’s Memo For Yourself

Archbishop Cordileone was on a conference call with other bishops of the California Catholic Conference prior to issuing further recommendations for parishes in San Francisco and Marin and San Mateo counties.

Completely cancelling Sunday service was not a consideration, but the Archbishop said the elderly and vulnerable parishioners were exempt from the obligation to attend. He also extended that to any parishioner who was afraid of being in a crowd during the current outbreak.

Other religious services that are not essential, or for which it is not essential that they be held at this time, were to be cancelled or postponed.

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“Some services, such as funerals and weddings, may or may not be deemed essential at this time, depending on circumstances,” the Archbishop wrote in his letter to parish priests. “I leave that decision to your discretion.”

But what the Archbishop did encourage was to stream line Sunday services as much as possible.

“Priests are encouraged to take steps to avoid prolonging the time of Mass insofar as the liturgical norms allow, in order to minimize the length of time people are potentially exposed to the contagion,” he wrote. “Examples of this would include abbreviated homilies, abbreviated Prayers of the
Faithful, omitting the procession with the offerings, and minimal music.”

The Archbishop also asked younger priests to take over more of the public responsibilities at the parishes for their elderly colleagues.

And the Catholic church wasn’t the only religious institution to implement such changes. Also on Friday, the Congregation Emanu-el in San Francisco and the Temple Sinai in Oakland announced they are suspending all in-person programming.

Congregation Emanu-el officials said they’re not aware of any confirmed COVID-19 cases in the community but, since many of their congregation are over 60, they want to help slow the virus’s spread as best as possible. In-person programming is cancelled until April 5.

The temple’s Friday night services will be livestreamed on Facebook starting Friday. “On March 13, we will Livestream the One Shabbat service at 6:00 pm on the Temple Facebook page and the Late Shabbat at 8:30 pm on the Young Adult Facebook page to offer the peace and sanctuary that is the gift of Shabbat. Please continue to check this page for updates,” officials said.

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For Shabbat services at Temple Sinai, in-person events will not be held until further notice. Friday night and Saturday morning services, including the Shabbat Minyan, will be streamed only. The WTS service scheduled for tonight, March 13th, will be postponed until the summer. A PDF of the service they will use in the coming weeks for Friday nights can be viewed. Temple ervices can be streamed live on their Facebook page or Vimeo page