Archbishop Paul Etienne released a video late today, announcing the news:

“I’m going to ask that all our parishes, effective today, suspend the celebration publicly of the Eucharist…”

This appears to be the first United States diocese to make such a drastic move — echoing what is already happening in Rome.

The Vicar for Clergy, the Rev. Gary Zender, sent out the following email:

Archbishop Etienne has just finished recording a message to the people of the Archdiocese. In the video, he expresses that out of abundance of caution, and despite our best efforts to slow this rapidly spreading virus down, he has suspended all public Masses effective immediately. We have not seen a contagion of this magnitude in our country for 100 years and it is important that we take it seriously.  We recognize that there are many implications to this decision and there will be additional communication forthcoming as the situation unfolds.  Here is the link to the Archbishop’s video:

Some of you will undoubtedly have unique and area specific questions about this news, but we want to be clear that this is not a recommendation, this is a directive from the Archbishop out of care and love for all of our people throughout the Archdiocese of Seattle.  While the greatest concern is currently in  Pierce, Snohomish and King Counties, please know that this decision was made with all of you beyond those three counties in mind as well.  All the scientific data we have leads us to believe that it is simply a matter of time before COVID-19 hits your parishes down south, on the peninsula and up north.  Take this new mandate as an opportunity to enact preventative measures that King, Snohomish and Pierce County parishes did not have the benefit of doing.

Again, additional information will come very soon regarding specific questions you may have at this time.

Please know of my prayers and gratitude for your faithful leadership, obedience to this request, and remaining as one Catholic family in Western Washington.

Our Lady of Seattle, pray for us!

But click the video below for the archbishop’s statement.