SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Hundreds of worshipers were gathered inside St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco despite California's COVID-19 health order banning indoor services. The Archbishop said a threat of violence prompted the move.
It was a strange sight in the midst of our pandemic as hundreds of worshipers gathered inside the church for a special Saturday mass prior to the West Coast Walk for Life.
The state's COVID-19 health order allows small outdoor services but has banned all indoor worship.
"Having mass indoors is wonderful, I know we're not allowed to do it, but we're very safe," said parishioner Kennedy Ching.
"We had every plan, every intention to hold mass outdoors," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.
San Francisco Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone says a security threat prompted him to move the worship service inside, possible violence due to a rumored protest and counter-protest next door at the Chinese Consulate.
"One group that was part of the storming of the capitol, another left wing group," the Archbishop said.
We saw a large police presence outside the Consulate Saturday. Dozens of officers were also stationed around St. Mary's Cathedral.
In a statement to ABC7 News, SFPD said: "There were no specific threats directed toward the church. Our presence was precautionary for the security of all those in the area."
"So it was a trade-off between extra step of caution versus keeping people safe cause of the threat of violence," said Cordileone.
Cordileone has been an outspoken critic of the indoor worship ban.
"To me it's unjust and unconstitutional," he said.
The Archbishop says he plans to hold smaller indoor services in the future, with safety measures in place.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- How to register for COVID-19 vaccine in every Bay Area county
- Map: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules
- CALCULATOR: Find out how many people may get a COVID-19 vaccine before you
- VIDEO: When will I get the COVID-19 vaccine? We explain who goes 1st
- Updated number of COVID-19 deaths, cases in Bay Area
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- How are Chinatown businesses surviving? Here's what we found
- From COVID-19 to Black Lives Matter, these 13 people defined the Bay Area in 2020
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during pandemic
- California EDD: The most commonly asked questions we get about unemployment and PUA
- How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus symptoms
- Here's which mask is better to protect from COVID-19
- First COVID-19 vaccine volunteers in US describe experience as Bay Area launches vaccine trials
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine and how will it be made?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Here's how shelter in place, stay at home orders can slow spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic