NEW DIOCESAN PASTORAL MEASURES FOR COMBATING COVID-19 TRANSMISSION
Given the drastic deterioration of the pandemic situation in Hong Kong, the Government announced yesterday (February 8) some measures further restricting social gatherings, with a view to reducing more effectively the risks of viral transmission. One of the new measures requires the temporary closing of our religious premises (i.e., premises where public Masses are celebrated) from 10th to 23rd February.
To cope with the foregoing urgent Government measures, Bishop Stephen Chow, S.J., has just announced the following special pastoral measures for the period from 10th (Thursday) to 23rd (Wednesday) February:
1. The premises (i.e., churches, chapels and Mass centres) under our Diocese where public Masses are regularly celebrated, are to be temporarily closed. “Public” Masses, the rite of giving Holy Communion and all other religious gatherings are also to be suspended temporarily. (Note 1)
2. The faithful may choose one of the following alternatives to fulfilling the obligation of attending Sunday Mass:
a.Taking part in a Sunday Mass online (Note 2) (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.
3. 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.
4. Parish offices are to continue their day-to-day operation as usual.
Note 1: Whether it is still permitted to hold weddings and funerals, and if so, whether there is any restriction on the number of participants, has yet to be clarified by the relevant Government department.
Note 2: Parishes should not choose a church or a chapel, but other venues, for the celebration of Masses for broadcasting purposes, to avoid causing misunderstanding that they are breaching the above-mentioned urgent Government measures.
Parish clergy, Heads of diocesan offices and the faithful are to strictly comply with the above pastoral measures.