In front of dozens of parishioners who had to observe Mass from the street outside St. Peter Church in San Francisco, the vicar for Hispanics for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Father Moises Agudo, said he is not asking for privileges for the church but to be treated the same as other businesses that receive large numbers of people at the same time.
Father Agudo made the remarks after his homily at Mass on Sunday, Aug. 23.
Indoor religious gatherings are suspended and outdoor events are limited to 12 people, under San Francisco Department of Public Health orders to limit spread of the virus that causes Covid-19. For that reason, the gates of St. Peter Church at 24th and Alabama streets in the Mission District remained closed as a small assembly gathered for Mass in the church courtyard.
Those denied entry because they arrived after the first 12, including children and the elderly, observed from Alabama Street on the other side of the fence. They listened to the service but could not receive Communion.
Father Agudo, pastor of St. Peter, St. Charles and St. Anthony, all in the Mission, assured that the patio of St. Peter has capacity to seat more than 200 faithful placed six feet apart in compliance with health orders.
The church itself can hold 600 people and 150 people could attend each Mass at 25% capacity, he said.
Father Agudo said the church must administer spiritual as well as material goods. He said the restrictions are preventing the church from administering the spiritual goods of the sacraments.
He maintained that the hundreds of people who gather at nearby in Dolores Park can be more likely to transmit the virus.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an expert in Infectious disease of the University of California at San Francisco, expressed concern about the number of people who do not wear a mask in Dolores Park and the many spilling over the designated circles to maintain physical distancing, he told to NBC, Aug. 9.
The faithful who gathered in front of the gate of St. Peter wore masks. One of them was Gloria Azpeitia. Her voice broken by crying, she was saddened that she could not receive Communion.
“Why do we have to be on the street if we have a church,” she said. “Why don’t they let us come to see Christ and receive him, if they let people fill the beaches, parks and supermarkets? It is not fair. God is first.”
Another parishioner, Pablo Zapet, said that he will continue to observe Mass from the street until the restrictions are lifted.
Mariano Rodríguez, another St. Peter parishioner, said “the church implemented all the security measures, they disinfected our hands, took our temperature, asked us to wear masks and sat us six feet apart.”
She said the church is peaceful and respects the authorities but maintained that people need to attend Mass.
The above comes from an Aug. 27 story in Catholic San Francisco