Mumbai: Churches to resume public mass next week
Cardinal Oswald Gracias allows additional masses on Sundays and weekdays, lets parish priests decide the number of people per Mass
The Archbishop of Bombay Cardinal Oswald Gracias and the 11 deans of Mumbai that fall under the Archbishop's jurisdiction decided on Thursday to resume public celebration of the Holy Eucharist, commonly known as mass, next Saturday onwards. The decision was arrived at after a meeting late on Wednesday.
In a circular addressed to the deans and parish priests across the city, the Cardinal thanked the deans for a "very productive meeting" during which "we reviewed the situation in our Churches after they had been opened two days earlier," and stated that effective SOPs had been put in place across all churches that had been reopened so far.
"In the Archdiocese of Bombay, we will resume the public celebration of the Eucharist, with restrictions, at the beginning of the new Liturgical Year: the First Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2020," read the circular. The circular further stated that each parish has until November 29 to finalise the SOPs and make arrangements with the help of the Special Team constituted specifically for the task. "We have to ensure that all entering the church wear masks, observe social distancing (unless it is the same family) and make provision for washing of hands."
What are the rules?
In his communication, the Cardinal also left it up to respective parish priests and deans to decide on the number of people to be allowed inside the church during each service. He said that although he had suggested 1/3rd of the total capacity, parish priests could further reduce this number. Furthermore, churches have to be sanitised completely before each service. Touching of statues is not permitted, water stoups are to be kept empty, and bringing flowers to church has also been discouraged.
The Cardinal is also letting parish priests decide on celebrating additional Masses on Sundays and weekdays so that all parishioners "have an equal opportunity to participate in the Eucharist at least once a week." "The government has advised that those above 65 years and those below 10 years of age not to come for religious gatherings. We advocate the same." Thursday's circular stated that on Sunday, November 22, which is the Feast of Christ the King, many would have an adoration service before the Blessed Sacrament, with different age groups coming in at different times to control crowds. "Each parish could decide how to organise the Adoration service: silent adoration, Liturgy of the Word, Benediction, etc. You have then the whole of the last week of the Liturgical Year to get your SOPs in place and to prepare and announce arrangements," it stated.
Since the distribution of sacred food is disallowed, only the celebrating priest(s) will receive Holy Communion at Mass. Father Nigel Barrett, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bombay, said, "The meeting was held to review the last two days of churches being opened. The feedback that we got from deans was that the decision to reopen was a bit sudden and not all parishes had time to get their SOPs in place. Our primary objective is the safety of all people."
Day public Masses will resume
Recommended attendance of devotees during Mass
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