Catholic churches in Indonesia’s Jakarta Archdiocese will remain closed despite closure orders on places of worship being lifted as part of measures to ease Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, the country’s top churchman said. We do not want them to become new coronavirus clusters, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo said. “We all know that places of worship are now allowed to reopen. Nevertheless, Catholic churches will not reopen yet. We need to be careful and never make places of worship — our churches — new Covid-19 clusters,” the prelate said in a video message issued on June 12. The message came more than a week after the Jakarta administration decided to allow places of worship to reopen. Decisions on whether to reopen were being left to each archdiocese and diocese to decide. Samarinda Archdiocese in East Kalimantan announced last week it would reopen its churches on June 6, while churches in Bogor Diocese in West Java will reopen their doors on June 20.
Jakarta Archdiocese will not be following suit for now. “From the aspect of faith, there is no issue. We still can join Sunday Masses as state-owned television broadcasts Sunday Mass and [parishes] continue to livestream them,” Cardinal Suharyo said in his video message. Jakarta, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia, imposed large-scale social restrictions on April 10. On June 4, it began easing those restrictions which had banned large gatherings, including those in places of worship. As of June 14, Jakarta had recorded 8,978 out of 36,277 Covid-19 cases in Indonesia and 555 out of 2,134 deaths. “Many now talk about the ‘new normal’ situation. What does it mean? As I understand, it means we try to live a life normally in this situation. We, of course, must be able to adapt ourselves to the way we think and the way we behave — from small to big issues — so that we can live life optimally,” Cardinal Suharyo said. Calling on Catholics to be disciplined, the prelate said: “In this case, we must realize that our small wrongdoings are very harmful to our common life. Thus, we must prioritize our common good.” Jesuit Father Albertus Hani Rudi Hartoko of Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta confirmed the church would not hold public Sunday Masses until a further decision is made by the archdiocese. “We do not want to hurry. We want to make sure everything in relation to health protocols is ready,” he said. “We call on Catholics to be patient. In the meantime, we ask them to wash hands regularly and make wearing a face mask and maintaining physical distancing a habit.”
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