On Christmas at least four San Francisco churches, including the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, ignored San Francisco’s restrictions on religious services and celebrated the Christmas Vigil and Christmas Masses indoors. In addition to the cathedral, St. Dominic’s, Most Holy Redeemer, and Star of the Sea all refused to knuckle under to the city’s December 23 order restricting indoor worship and welcomed their flocks into their churches to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord.

The archbishop had responded by acknowledging the order and reminded his pastors that the celebration of Mass indoors was at their individual discretion:

“Yesterday evening, shortly after the District Court’s decision denying a preliminary injunction in the Harvest Rock Church case, the legal counsel for the archdiocese, Paula Carney, received a letter from the city attorney’s office, claiming that, despite other court rulings and varying health orders around the state, indoor worship services are still prohibited in the city and county of San Francisco, and asking me to modify my last instruction (allowing worship indoors at the pastor’s discretion) to you.” Archbishop Cordileone noted that the letter was unique to the city and county of San Francisco, and that he had received no such communication from the other two counties in the archdiocese: “We have received no such letter from any authority in Marin or San Mateo counties.”

Archdiocesan counsel Paula Carney responded to the city of San Francisco:

“The law on this issue in California remains far from clear. In fact, Los Angeles County lifted bans on indoor worship, as has every state in the U.S. except California. The archbishop continues to instruct his priests to celebrate Mass outdoors whenever possible and to bring their people indoors only if in their judgment they would be safer, while observing the stringent safety protocols in place. The archbishop does not want to turn his people away from their right to worship, especially on the most cherished night in the Christian calendar. We believe the archbishop’s instruction to be in line with law across the nation.”

The archbishop himself, as well as the other cathedral priests, celebrated Christmas Masses at the cathedral.

Go here to see the 11 a.m. Christmas Day Mass, and here to see the 1 p.m. Christmas Day Spanish language Mass at the cathedral.

Go here to see the 9:30 a.m. Christmas Day Mass at St. Dominic’s.

Go here to see the Christmas Day Mass at Most Holy Redeemer.

Go here to see the 8:30 a.m. Christmas Day Mass at Star of the Sea.

The above is an exclusive story by Gibbons Cooney.