© 2021 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Portland Diocese Calls Gathering Restrictions On Catholic Churches 'Unacceptable'

Aaron Favila
Associated Press
A Catholic priest sprinkles ash on the head of a man during Ash Wednesday rituals Feb 17, 2021, at the St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Caloocan, Metro Manila, Philippines.

The leader of Maine’s Catholic church says Gov. Janet Mills’ new executive order on gathering size limits for churches is “unacceptable and does nothing to provide relief to our parishes and parishioners.”

The new order comes as Catholics enter Lent, one of the most important religious seasons in the church. It calls for five people per 1,000 square feet of space or up to 50 people, whichever is greater.

In a statement, the archdiocese of Portland says that of Maine’s 141 Catholic churches, fewer than 10 will see an increase from the current capacity levels.

Bishop Robert Deeley is calling for a percentage model, rather than an absolute number.

Since June 2020, Deeley says the Diocese of Portland has held more than 20,000 public Masses in Maine churches without seeing a single outbreak.