COVID-19: Catholic churches will not reopen for private prayers in Phase 1

A Roman Catholic Church in Singapore, after all public masses were indefinitely suspended as a protective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country. (PHOTO: Martin Abbugao/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Catholic churches will not reopen for private prayers during Phase 1 of the post-circuit breaker period from 2 June, said the Archbishop of Singapore.

In a letter to parishioners which was also posted on Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore website on Wednesday (27 May), Archbishop William Goh said that the churches would be unable to comply with the strict restrictions set by the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) to allow places of worship to reopen for private prayers from 2 June.

“Because of the risks of infection, Phase 1 carries many restrictions and requirements to all religious organisations on how such private worship is to be conducted,” Goh said in his letter.

“The Archdiocese has noted the government’s cautious stance, studied the restrictions and requirements, and consulted with a number of parish priests.

“Because we are not allowed to engage the help of volunteers, it will be very difficult to fully comply with the strict conditions set by MCCY for Phase 1. Hence, our churches will reluctantly remain closed for private worship during this phase.”

Goh added that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese has to err on the side of caution out of pastoral responsibility, and seeks understanding from the followers that “both our staff and worshippers are uppermost on our minds for the best outcome always”.

Wedding solemnisations, funeral services to resume

In Phase 1, Catholic churches will be able to resume conducting wedding solemnisations and funeral services that comply with the restrictions and requirements set by MCCY. Parishes will continue to use established online platforms for pastoral care, formation and fellowship.

Goh wrote in his letter that the Archdiocese is looking forward to open the churches for private prayer and adoration in Phase 2, especially when requirements – such as allowing volunteer parishioners to assist in implementing safety measures – are further relaxed.

“In anticipation of fully reopening, we are also working hard to introduce a digital Mass attendance registration system and strong safeguards to public health,” he wrote.

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