Coronavirus: Roman Catholic Archdiocese asks churches to suspend public gatherings during lockdown

 The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kolkata has asked all churches under its order to suspend public gatherings during religious services till the coronavirus-triggered lockdown is lifted.

In a circular issued recently, Archbishop Thomas D’Souza asked priests of 65 city churches, to put on hold all public gatherings during religious services like Friday prayers, held every week in the run-up to Easter, till the government advisory against such congregation remains in force, a spokesman said.

The circular said, Public celebration (with a congregation) of the Holy Mass or Way of the Cross or Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the parish churches will remain suspended so as to avoid large gatherings.

Last Friday, Roman Catholic Christians, estimated to be around two lakh in the city, prayed within the confines of their homes.

Similarly, last Wednesday, an important occasion for Christians the world over, the usual congregation of faithfuls was done away in the 65 churches, for the first time in recent years.

But everyone joined the prayers streamed live from Vatican city on YouTube from their homes, the spokesman said.

Wednesday is a holy occasion in the Christian calender of Lent and is observed the world over as the Feast of Annunciation.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese also asked followers not to have a large group of mourners trailing a hearse during funeral, and the police should be informed before the body is taken out.

While a small mass should be conducted to avoid a large gathering, the family can go for a larger mass when it will be allowed by the government.

We will review the situation after March 31 based on the advisory of the government,” he said.