In a new message to the faithful Archbishop José H. Gomez said he is hopeful that churches in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles can reopen soon.
In separate nearly seven-minute videos delivered in English and Spanish and shared widely on social media, Archbishop Gomez spoke personally about the impact of having churches closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been very challenging for me, personally, and for my brother bishops and priests not to be able to have the celebration of Mass in a normal way,” he said.
“It’s also been very challenging to have to postpone the celebration of celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation during this time,” he added. “And not to be able to be present for the entire Church in the celebration of Sacraments like Baptism and Confession, especially the celebration of funerals where we have the sadness and passing of one of our loved ones.”
He described his sadness at having the celebrate Mass in the empty Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. “It is a beautiful Cathedral,” he said, “and what makes the Cathedral even more beautiful is the presence of so many faithful that want to come and celebrate with us.”
“I know that this has also been extremely difficult for all of you,” he added. “We all want to be together.”
The archbishop said he was touched by the many people who have told him how important the the Eucharist is in their lives and “how beautiful it is to be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we receive the forgiveness of our sins and new grace to continue our Christian life in the middle of the world.”
Archbishop Gomez said the coronavirus remains “a very dangerous illness” and that reopening the churches requires planning and caution.
“The situation is not over yet,” he said. “Even this week the number of cases of people infected in Los Angeles County — and sadly the people who have died this week — the number are still very high.”
Noting that the numbers are not as high in the two other counties in the archdiocese, Ventura and Santa Barbara, the archbishop said “it is still a very contagious illness.”
Archbishop Gomez said that he has been personally working with city, county and state leaders to help them to understand the vital need that Catholics to worship, and “the importance of the presence of God in our lives and how beautiful it is for us to come to church, and …to have the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.”
“I think the officials are, little by little, understanding better what is that urgent reality,” he said.
In the near future, he said, it should be possible to begin reopening churches following social distancing and other safe practices to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
“Let us keep praying, let us keep working together,” the archbishop said. “I am really hopeful that things are going to change really soon. I need your support and your prayers because, obviously, we need to come to that moment where we can safely open our churches to continue the celebration of the Sacraments that are so essential for us. … If we work together, we pray together, and we give priority to protecting one another in this challenging situation, we can see that the churches are going to be open very soon.”