Catholic churches in US suspend confessions and allow sacraments for the dying only amid pandemic
'In some churches, parishioners can drive up to a priest wearing a mask and gloves, keep a safe distance and confess'
Catholic churches in the United States may not accept confessions anymore amid the coronavirus crisis in the country.
Reports state that at a time when Catholics are turning to technology to pray this Easter through online service, their confessions may have to wait as churches across the nation are planning to put a temporary stop to the ritual,
Multiple Catholic Church leaders in major American cities are reportedly ordering confessions and other sacraments to be discontinued during the coronavirus pandemic, according to TMZ.
The spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York, Joseph Zwilling, told the outlet, "All of our sacraments have been put on hold during this crisis," however, added that there can be exceptions.
Zwilling said that exceptions will be made for those people who need a reading of their last rites or an emergency baptism.
Reports state that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has called off all regular penance services too. However, for the dying parishioners or in other "extremely extraordinary" situations, appointments can be set with a priest.
Even in exceptional cases, proper social distancing rules must be followed. The Archdiocese of Boston is reportedly also using the same guidelines in an attempt to curb the spread of the deadly virus, which has claimed thousands of lives in the country alone.
Confessions, in San Francisco and Miami, however, are still being continued, although parishioners are required to make early appointments. The Archdioceses in both cities told the outlet that they are following strict social distancing practices and that a special confessional ensures safety and confidentiality.
Reports state that in Miami, more than 65 priests with a compromised immune system, have been benched.
While some churches in New Orleans have come up with innovative methods to continue the practice of confessions via drive-thrus. The outlet reported that in some churches, parishioners can drive up to a priest wearing a mask and gloves, keep a safe distance and confess.
With the novel coronavirus cases rapidly rising across the country, there are concerns of mass gatherings in multiple states over Easter. In an attempt to tackle this, officials in Kentucky have planned to document the license plate numbers of individuals attending mass gatherings over Easter weekend, and give their information to health officials. The officials reportedly will then ask the people to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to Gov. Andy Beshear.
“Even on a weekend like this, we cannot have any in-person gatherings of any type,” Beshear said on April 10. "We absolutely cannot bring people together in one building like that, because that is how the coronavirus spreads, and that is how people die,” the governor continued. “Understand that this is the only way that we can ensure that your decision doesn’t kill somebody else."
“I think it’s not a test of faith whether you’re going to an in-person service," he stated. "It’s a test of faith that you’re willing to sacrifice to protect your fellow man, your fellow woman, your fellow Kentuckian, and your fellow American."
The novel coronavirus has claimed over 20,600 lives in the United States with over 530,000 confirmed infections. America is currently the worst affected country in the world.