NEW DIOCESAN PASTORAL MEASURES FOR COMBATING COVID-19 TRANSMISSION
The COVID-19 pandemic has just entered the “fifth wave”, with the Coronavirus variant Omicron spreading to our local communities.
In view of the current rapidly aggravating situation of the pandemic, the Government is appealing to the public to be on high alert. The Government has also appealed to local religious leaders today in the hope that they could temporarily suspend as far as possible any face-to-face religious gatherings. This could help minimise social contacts between worshippers, thereby curbing the pandemic.
To cope with the urgent Government measures, Bishop Stephen Chow, S.J., has just announced the following special pastoral measures (for the period from 8th – 20th January 2022):
1. Parish churches and affiliated chapels, as well as all other places (centres, etc.) where regular Sunday and weekday “public” Masses are celebrated, may celebrate weekday and Sunday Masses as usual from 8th (Saturday) to 9th (Sunday). From 10th (Monday) to 20th (Thursday) January inclusive, all “public” Masses, as well as other face-to-face religious gatherings, are to be suspended, with the exception of small group gatherings (if really necessary), weddings (Note 1) and funerals (Note 2).
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. Those faithful who individually pray or visit the Blessed Sacrament in a church or chapel are not considered as a group gathering.
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. Before entering the church compound, they are required to scan the “LeaveHomeSafe” venue QR code; b. a mask must be worn during the stay; c. body temperature must be screened; d. hands must be cleansed with sanitiser; e. at least 1m social-distancing must be kept between individuals.
4. The faithful may choose one of the following alternatives to fulfil the obligation of attending Sunday Mass: a. Taking part in a Sunday Mass online (e.g., through the diocesan website https://www.catholic.org.hk ) and receive Holy Communion spiritually; OR b. Reflecting on the Sunday Liturgical text, reading the Bible or saying the Rosary, etc.
5. 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.
Parish clergy, Heads of diocesan offices and the faithful are to strictly comply with the above pastoral measures.
Notes: (1) The maximum number of participants are 50% of the normal capacity of the venue (church), and no food or drink may be served. (2) There is no restriction on the number of participants.