Archbishop Alexander Sample announced Monday, March 16, that all Masses in the Archdiocese of Portland — including those for Holy Week and Easter — are canceled for the next four weeks.

“This is by far one of the most difficult communications I have ever written because of the impact it will have on the spiritual and faith lives of so many of us,” said the archbishop in a letter to the faithful, issued the same day Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that gatherings of more than 25 people are banned through April 14. She also said the state’s bars and restaurants must close and urged Oregonians to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

Brown’s decision was the latest set of drastic actions intended to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, which has led to 7,100 deaths globally thus far.

Earlier Monday, President Donald Trump made a similar recommendation that gatherings not exceed 10 people.

“I suspect that at some point 10 people will become the law,” wrote Archbishop Sample in the letter. He said it would be impossible to manage the 10-25-person limit in Masses in the parishes and missions of the archdiocese.

It was a choice made “with a very heavy heart,” said Archbishop Sample.

With the announcement he dispensed all the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation through April 14.

“This will be particularly hard because this will take us through Holy Week and Easter,” said the archbishop, noting that additional information, direction, suggestions and pastoral guidance will be forthcoming “as we navigate together these uncharted waters.”

Archbishop Sample said he would be reminding the priests of the importance of offering daily Mass, though not publicly, for the good of the faithful and for an end to the crisis.

“I am sorry beyond words to have to make this decision,” he wrote. “It is very painful for me to do so. In the midst of this we must remember that the holy Eucharist remains the source and summit of the Christian life. May our hunger for the Mass and the Body of Christ be a source of grace for us.”