Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim of Kuala Lumpur. The archdiocese has extended suspension of all church services until Jan. 14 as new cases of Covid-19 continue to remain high. (Photo: Facebook)
The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur has extended the suspension of all public services until Jan. 14 in line with the instructions of Malaysia’s National Security Council (MKN) as new cases of Covid-19 continue to surge.
Church officials announced the decision as the MKN imposed a conditional movement control order for Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Seremban districts amid fears over rising new infections.
In a chancery notice on Dec. 31, Father Michael Chua, chancellor of Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese, announced that suspension of church services would be effective from Jan. 4-14.
Earlier, Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim of Kuala Lumpur had suspended all public Masses in all parishes, churches and chapels from Christmas Eve until the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord on Jan. 6.
His latest directive stated that all public Masses in the archdiocese, regardless of whether the parish falls within a red zone or non-red zone as designated by the Ministry of Health, would remain suspended until Jan. 14.
However, Archbishop Leow and the two vicars general, Monsignor Leonard Lexson and Monsignor Mitchel Anthony, will visit parishes to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on respective dates with prior notification.
Archbishop Leow has delegated the faculty of conferring Confirmation to parish priests, assistant parish priests and resident priests of parishes in red zones with more than 30 candidates.
In red zones, only 20 persons including the ministers of the sacrament and a couple to act as proxy sponsors for all the candidates are allowed for each session.
To accommodate all candidates where the number exceeds 20, the parish priest should arrange for several Masses where the sacrament could be conferred, the notice said.
Due to limited seating capacity, online streaming can be done for the benefit of family, friends and sponsors.
The archdiocese also ordered that funerals and weddings should be restricted to 20 persons in red zones and 30 persons in non-red zones.
Baptism of children can be conducted but guests are to be restricted to immediate family members and sponsors. Meanwhile, group baptisms should be limited to a maximum of two families.
“From the medical point of view, the tighter the controls are, the less chance of spread of disease. Therefore, less chance of ill patients overwhelming the fragile public hospitals. The government understands that more stringent public health controls do come at a cost, mainly to the economy and to personal liberties, and by extension to the mental health and well-being of society,” Father Chua said.
He suggested that in collaboration with the archdiocese crisis task force, parish response teams should start preparations to ensure they are ready to respond to a situation where a Mass attendee subsequently tests positive for Covid-19.
Malaysia has recorded 119,077 infections and 494 deaths from Covid-19, according to the Ministry of Health.