Gujarat: Catholic churches to reopen today only for silent prayers

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By: Express News Service | Vadodra | Published: June 13, 2020 11:00:09 pm

covid-19 in gujarat, catholic churches in gujarat, catholic churches reopen in gujarat, catholic churches reopen in non contaminated zones in gujarat, indian express news The Churches in Gujarat have remained closed and weekly gatherings suspended since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown in March. (File)

Catholic churches in non-containment areas of Gujarat are all set to open from Sunday, a week after religious places of worship were allowed to open from June 8 as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

A circular from the Catholic Bishops of Gujarat on Saturday stated that the churches will open only “for silent personal prayers” and will continue to keep its obligatory weekly Eucharistic celebrations suspended until the Covid-19 situation in the country improves.

The letter, signed by Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes S.J., Bishop Jose Chittooparambil CMI, Bishop Rethna Swamy and Archbishop Thomas Macwan, stated, “The government is doing its best to contain this pandemic and we have been cooperating fully with the directives given by them. We were hoping that we would be able to begin Holy Mass in the churches from 8 June, but the cases in Gujarat are increasing with each passing day and we really do not know how many Covid-19 asymptomatic patients are moving among us after the opening up of the lockdown. We are more vulnerable than we were before now that we seem to enter into the community transmission stage. We will now have to be more careful than before. Therefore, only churches in non-containment zones can be opened from June 14, the feast of Corpus Christi for visit to the Blessed Sacrament and personal prayer.”

The churches will remain open every day at their respective pre-decided timings for individuals to offer “silent prayers”, another circular by Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes of the Baroda Diocese said. The circular also states that the individual Parish Priest of the church would be responsible for ensuring adherence to the prescribed government protocols for religious places, including social distancing, prohibiting entry of persons above 65 and below 10 years of age, prohibiting offerings inside the church, regular disinfection of premises, among other operating protocols.

Spokesperson of the Catholic Church of Gujarat, Father Vinayak Jadhav said, “This Sunday, June 14 is a significant day for us. It is a feast, popularly known as the Corpus Christi — Corpus symbolising the body and blood of Christ, which Jesus sacrificed for the love of humanity. It is a chosen day to open churches for individual worship as the Body of Christ in the form of Holy Communion is preserved in the Blessed Sacrament before which Catholics spend time in silent adoration. However, due to prohibition of distribution of prasad as part of the SOPs, Catholics will dearly miss receiving Holy Communion, especially on the feast of the Corpus Christi.”

The Churches in Gujarat have remained closed and weekly gatherings suspended since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown in March.

Individual chuches have been streaming their daily Eucharistic celebrations on social media. The community had also observed the Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter Vigil mass online in April.

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