LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In order to help combat a possible coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Diocese of Little Rock has suspended Sunday Mass for all Catholics effective immediately.
In a statement, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock said the Diocese is trying to be pro-active rather than reactive and that certain measures must be put into place to "flatten the curve" of coronavirus cases.
Public Masses will be suspended starting the weekend of March 21-22, except for small groups at the discretion of the priest. Whenever possible, churches will be kept open during daylight hours for private prayer and Eucharistic Adoration as an alternative to Sunday Mass.
The non-essential gatherings at Parishes for the rest of March and April are canceled or postponed, pending further notice. This includes but is not limited to previously-scheduled Confirmation ceremonies.
All communal penance serves are also canceled. Face-to-face confessions are suspended, and confessions may only be heard with a physical screen/barrier.
According to the Bishop, except for very small parishes, only those entering the church through RCIA may be present physically for the Triduum. all others may participate in Triduum services via TV or online.
On Palm Sunday, priests will hold a short private service, after which people may pick up blessed palms, which will be made available outside of church.
Bishop Taylor says by April 15, he will make a determination regarding extending any of the above suspensions through the month of May.