Dozens of Catholics met outside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi on Saturday morning to celebrate a return to indoor Mass.

Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester ordered the end of indoor Mass across the archdiocese late last month, even though the governor’s public health order still allowed indoor religious ceremonies.

Vicar General Glenn Jones, Wester’s deputy, told priests in a letter Friday they could resume indoor Mass in line with the latest public health order with 25 percent of occupancy.

“The Archbishop continues to strongly recommend that people remain home and away from gatherings. The dispensation to not attend weekly mass remains,” Jones said in the letter. “Preventative protocols such as social-distancing, masks and disinfecting should be strictly observed, if not increased.”

On Saturday morning, about 60 people, who were mostly but not all masked, prayed together outside the cathedral a few hours before the state Department of Health reported 10 new deaths from COVID-19 to bring the statewide total to 1,208.

The Rev. Bill Sanchez of St. Joseph Parish in Cerrillos thanked God and President Donald Trump for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and spoke of his “oath against modernism” before reading prayers aloud in Latin. During the hourlong gathering, one attendee’s Trump flag drew a handful of honks and middle fingers.

Most attendees had taken part in protests since Wester’s decision to halt indoor Mass after Oct. 26.

“With coronavirus stuff going on, we rely on the sacraments,” said Eric Ulibarri, who has been attending Mass in the parking lot at St. Anne Parish off Agua Fría Street. “Without that, we’re pretty much doomed.”

Ulibarri said even when the weather is nice, he would still prefer to have Mass indoors.

Bart Wyatt, who drove 3½ hours from Amistad with his wife and three children to attend the prayer, said he hasn’t had outdoor Mass at his church in Roy.

“We have pretty strong wind all the time,” Wyatt said. “We don’t want to do anything sacrilegious and blow Jesus onto the ground.”

After the celebration outside the cathedral, attendees said they were concerned the archbishop’s decision wouldn’t last long.

“We want to make sure he sticks to his guns,” Wyatt said. “There’s a difference between church and state. Even if the governor decides to close everything down, we’ve got to at least keep 25 percent.”

Wester did not return calls for comment Saturday.

(9) comments

Molly Mix

Such good news!!!

Kathy Fish

Seriously? You're endorsing what amounts to a death sentence for those most compromised among us.

Henry Romero

Thanked God and President Trump for Amy Coney Barrett? I’m pretty sure God wouldn’t think very highly of Trump and his racism, misogyny and all the rest of his uncaring and uncompassionate ways. If some parishioners feel they can only be close to God by attending an in-person mass that could possibly infect and kill a fellow human being, you probably need a bit more spiritual guidance than a mass can provide.

David Ford

[thumbup]Excellent.

The constant crossover of religion into the political realm is against the law and is IMO a strong case to start taxing the churches if they continue to participate. The IRS law is clear as in Revenue Ruling 2007-41 (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-07-41.pdf).

It is a noble cause to keep church and state separate and is exactly as the founding fathers intended (Re: The Founding Myth by Andrew Seidel). Please consider joining the FFRF.org to help further this important work for our democracy. It is the only wall we need.

Mike Johnson

Mich is NOT gonna be happy with this. Wester is in depth doodoo.

David Martinez

Why, she said that 25% attendance, or 75 people, whichever is less, is OK.

Shawn Chafins

Good point David. If people don't feel comfortable going out to worship, then that's up to them. I don't think politicians and they way they think is higher than God's word and his will.

Mike Johnson

The problem is that when virus cases were 10% of where they are now, it was shutdown and not allowed. You think this looks good as cases surge out of control???? Consistency???

Jim Klukkert

Shawn Chafins, and everyone else: Who shall we trust to determine 'God's word and his [sic] will?'

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