ERIE – As all 13 counties of the Diocese of Erie move into the yellow phase for reopening, the Most Rev. Lawrence T. Persico, bishop of Erie, has announced the diocese will take a gradual approach to restoring public worship in northwest Pennsylvania.

General protocols include:

• The suspension of all public Masses remains in effect.

• The dispensation from Sunday and holy day Mass obligations remains in place.

• Livestreaming of Masses (both daily and Sunday) will continue wherever feasible.

• Spiritual Communion will continue to be strongly encouraged.

• Regular pastoral visits to hospitals and to the home-bound remain suspended. Priests and deacons only (no lay ministers) may visit the home-bound for emergency sacramental visits.

Additionally,

• Permission has been restored for pastors to schedule periods of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as well as times for confessions. Each pastor has the freedom to determine how and when to implement these events.

• Priests in the diocese have been asked to meet with other priests in their regions over the next two weeks to discuss preparing for possible next steps. Of immediate concern is how to make the Eucharist available to people.

• Bishop Persico will host a virtual town hall on the topic at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21. Parishioners will be invited to sign up for the event through Zoom and will be able to submit questions by email for the bishop. The event will later be posted on the diocesan website.

The bishops of Pennsylvania first decided to suspend public Masses for the health and safety of the community on March 17.

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