PORTLAND — Effective immediately, the Most Rev. Robert P. Deeley, Bishop of Portland, is permitting the celebration of public Masses in the parking lots of Maine’s Catholic churches, but with strict protocols in place for the protection, safety and health of all participants. Those protocols include:

• Holy Communion will not be distributed until everyone’s safety can be assured through the adoption of appropriate protocols. For the present, parishioners are invited to participate in an Act of Spiritual Communion during the Masses.

• All parishioners will remain in their cars at all times.

• Only people who live together should be in the same vehicle.

• Churches/facilities will not be open for restroom use.

• Social distancing must be maintained by those who minister at the Masses (celebrant, cantor, lector).

• Cars must have one empty parking space between them in the parking lot.

• Offertory collections will not be held during the Mass. Instead, parishioners are encouraged to donate to their parish online through WeShare (www.portlanddiocese.org/OnlineGiving) or by mailing in donations to the parish office.

It is important to note that Catholics in Maine continue to be dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Even then, as the diocese permits these drive-in Masses, Maine parishes are encouraged to continue offering live-streamed Masses, which have the capacity to reach a large number of Catholic people, especially those who are trying to remain safe by staying at home. In addition, parishes will continue to offer drive-thru confessions, drive-in adoration, as well as using social media platforms to offer an assortment of other opportunities for prayer and educational program presentations.

The Diocese of Portland is offering updates multiple times a day on its Coronavirus Response page (www.portlanddiocese.org/response-coronavirus).

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