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Coronavirus outbreak closes San Francisco Catholic church

A man in a mask walks past a Gothic style Catholic church
Saints Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco has paused in-person Mass after three priests tested positive for the coronavirus.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

A Bay Area Catholic church has temporarily closed after three priests and two caregivers to one of the pastors tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

“Pray for us,” officials at Saints Peter and Paul Church in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco said in a note on the church’s website announcing it would shift daily services online and livestream them.

The church “certainly will not be able to have public Mass” over the weekend, according to its website, but the sanctuary may be able to open for private prayer next week.

A representative from Saints Peter and Paul Church did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The closure was not ordered by the city, said John Coté, the communications director for the city attorney’s office.

Under current public health orders, places of worship in San Francisco can hold indoor services at 25% of capacity, and everyone in attendance must wear face coverings.

Saints Peter and Paul has run afoul of public health orders in the past. It was one of the churches named in a cease-and-desist letter from San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera over the summer, when indoor services were not permitted.

“On Sunday, June 14, the city received multiple complaints that Saints Peter & Paul Church … held public Mass six times and people were coming in and out of the church … and the main doors were open to the public,” the letter stated.

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Shortly after the reprimand, the city received a complaint — which was confirmed through a wedding planning and registry website — that Saints Peter and Paul was holding a large indoor wedding, according to a July letter following the church’s public health order violation.

When a representative from the city attorney’s office arrived at the wedding, the pastor “did not indicate any surprise that the ongoing indoor gathering in his parish violated the health order,” the letter stated. “Indeed, the church had signage posted acknowledging that the health order did not permit indoor services.”

The wedding was moved outdoors at the urging of the city representative, according to the letter. The newlywed couple and at least eight guests later tested positive for the coronavirus, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.


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