Rome, Italy, Mar 15, 2020 / 10:35 am (CNA).- Italian police on Sunday dispersed Catholics attending a Mass being celebrated in a parish outside of Rome. The Italian government has prohibited public gatherings in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Mass was being offered at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in the Italian town of Cerveteri, some 27 miles northwest of Rome. Earlier this month, the Italian bishops’ conference confirmed government measures against public gatherings, effectively prohibiting the public celebration of Mass anywhere in the country.
Some 15 people were present at the March 15 Mass, several of them seated outside of the church, whose doors were opened as Mass was offered. The Mass was being live streamed on Facebook.
Police entered the Church after the distribution of Holy Communion, and before the final prayers of the Mass. The priest was permitted to conclude the Mass after parishioners dispersed.
While some churches in Italy are open for private prayer and the sacrament of confession, government measures prohibit Italians from leaving their homes for any reason except to purchase food or seek medical attention.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Archbp. Lefebvre 1980