SAN FRANCISCO—Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone called on parishes and their followers to participate in a public demonstration of worship in protest of San Francisco’s restrictions on in-person Mass attendance.

Cordileone shared details with priests of his archdiocese in a memo on Sunday, September 13. Separate processions will begin on Sunday, September 20 at St. Anthony, St. Patrick, and Star of the Sea parishes. The groups will converge at United Nations Plaza near San Francisco City Hall and walk to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption for multiple outdoor Masses, to be given in English and Spanish. He added that participants will be wearing masks and maintain social distancing. 

Cordileone says the purpose of the public display of Mass is “to witness to the city that faith matters,” according to The Jesuit Review. “We can’t be silent any longer,” he said, referencing “punitive” restrictions on in-person practice. He also asked people to sign a petition for San Francisco, “to lift its extreme restrictions on public worship,” states the the petition’s website, They will display banners reading: “We Are Essential: Free the Mass!” at churches.

The city’s health guidelines currently allow no more than 12 people to congregate for outdoor religious practices, with masks and at a social distance. Indoor Mass is not permitted, except in a situation where 12 gathered indoor for a live streamed service.     

As the city of San Francisco navigates through phase one of reopening, indoor gyms have reopened at 10 percent, some retail stores at 50 percent capacity, and malls at 25 percent capacity. Hair salons, nail salons, tattoo shops and massage parlors reopened Monday, September 14. According to the city of San Francisco, places of worship were reopened on the same day at a capacity of 50 people. 

Mayor London Breed previously stated she hopes to allow indoor attendance at religious ceremonies at 25 percent capacity, up to a maximum of 25 people. In his memo, Cordileone challenged the limitation, citing his cathedral “could easily fit 1,000 people either indoors or outdoors, with proper social distancing,” saying this is “less than 1% of the total capacity of St. Mary’s Cathedral.”