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Priest at Bay Area Catholic church that flouted public health orders dies of COVID-19

Saints Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco
A priest at Sts. Peter and Paul Church has died of COVID-19. The church has previously violated coronavirus public health orders.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

A priest at a Catholic church in San Francisco that temporarily closed amid a coronavirus outbreak has died, officials with the church said.

The Rev. Bob Stein, a pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the San Francisco neighborhood of North Beach, died early Tuesday, according to an announcement on the church’s website that thanked parishioners for their prayers and support.

Stein was one of three priests and three caregivers who contracted COVID-19 this month, church officials said in the latest bulletin.

The church shifted daily worship services online after Stein and the others tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago. It has been livestreaming daily Masses and had hoped to reopen the sanctuary for private prayer, but a message on the church’s answering machine said the building is still closed.

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Three priests and two caregivers at Saints Peter and Paul Church tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the church to move daily Mass online.

Sts. Peter and Paul Church made news over the summer for attempting to hold an indoor wedding that moved outdoors when a city representative showed up before the ceremony started. The newlywed couple and at least eight guests later tested positive for the coronavirus, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Prior to that, Sts. Peter and Paul was one of several churches named in a cease-and-desist letter from San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera. The church was cited for holding public Mass when indoor worship services were not permitted under public health orders.

The church will remain closed at least through Feb. 23, officials said.

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

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.


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