NEW DIOCESAN PASTORAL MEASURES FOR COMBATING COVID-19 TRANSMISSION
With the coming of the “third wave” of the Covid-19 pandemic and the rapid resurgence of confirmed infections, the SAR Government has again taken drastic precautionary measures for the coming two weeks (July 15-28), so as to reduce the risk of community transmission as far as possible.
To cope with these measures of the Government, Cardinal John TONG has announced the following new pastoral measures for the coming two weeks:
1.Parish churches and affiliated chapels, as well as all other places (centres, etc.) where regular Sunday and weekday “public” Masses are celebrated, are to suspend all “public” Masses. Other communal religious activities, with the exception of weddings (Note 1) and funerals (Note 2), are to be suspended as well.
2.Parish churches and affiliated chapels are to remain open to the faithful for personal prayers and visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Parish churches may also arrange for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament daily or on specific days. The faithful who individually come to a church or a chapel to pray or visit the Blessed Sacrament are not considered as a group gathering, and so there is no restriction on their number.
3.Parish churches and affiliated chapels should take the following precautionary measures for the faithful or other people who come to pray, to visit the Blessed Sacrament or to attend weddings or funerals:
a.a mask must be worn during the stay;
b.body temperature must be screened;
c.hands must be cleansed with sanitizer;
d.at least 1.5m social-distancing must be kept between individuals.
4.Parish Priests who have difficulties in making their churches and affiliated chapels available to the faithful, should consult the Diocesan Curia through the Chancery Office, so that a prudent decision may be made.
5.The faithful may choose one of the following alternatives to attending Sunday Mass:
a.Taking part in a Sunday Mass online (e.g., through the diocesan website catholic.org.hk ) and receive Holy Communion spiritually; OR
b.Reflecting on the Sunday Liturgical text, reading the Bible or saying the Rosary, etc.
6.The faithful can avail themselves of various online services, such as daily Masses, formation programmes and other spiritual exercises, such as daily morning prayer, Rosary and Angelus, by visiting the above-mentioned websites.
7.Parishes which have the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Infant Baptisms or the Rite of Confirmation for adults or children scheduled for the coming two weeks should postpone these liturgies and, depending on the situation of the pandemic, fix other dates.
8.On condition that the more important administrative and pastoral services are provided and not interrupted, Office Heads and Parish Priests may allow for more flexibility in the working-hours of their staff.
Parish clergy, Office Heads and the faithful are to strictly comply with the above pastoral measures.
The Diocese will announce follow-up pastoral measures before 28th July.
Notes: (1) No more than 20 persons may participate, and no food or drink may be served.
(2) There is no restriction on the number of participants.