SUSPENDING SUNDAY AND WEEKDAY MASSES TO REDUCE RISK OF CORONAVIRUS TRANSMISSION
As the cases of locally transmitted Coronavirus infection in Hong Kong is on the increase, the Government is making an urgent appeal to the public: in order to reduce the risk of viral transmissions through human contacts, they should stay at home and avoid going outdoor as far as possible, and they should also avoid visiting crowded places. The Government has emphasized that the coming two weeks are crucial for combatting the viral outbreak. In response to the strong admonition of the Government, Cardinal John TONG has promulgated the following special pastoral measures, effective from 15th to 28th February:
• All 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 and funerals, are to be suspended as well.
• 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, so that individual members of the faithful may take part and pray that the Coronavirus infections will be contained as soon as possible.
• 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.
• The faithful may choose one of the following alternatives to attending Sunday Mass: • Taking part in a Sunday Mass online (e.g., through the diocesan website www.catholic.org.hk ) and receive Holy Communion spiritually; OR • Reflecting on the Sunday Liturgical text, reading the Bible or saying the Rosary, etc.
• The faithful may also take part in weekday Masses or Lenten devotions or spiritual exercises, such as the Rosary, the Angelus and daily morning prayer by visiting the diocesan website (www.catholic.org.hk). The Church, being a member of society, has the duty to maintain public hygiene and promote the common good. Therefore, Parish Priests, the other parish clergy and the faithful are to strictly comply with the above pastoral measures. The Diocese will announce follow-up pastoral measures before 28th February.