A child carries an umbrella next to a barricade set up around an area for the lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus in Yangon on April 28. (Photo: Sai Aung Main/AFP)
Church officials in Myanmar have extended the suspension of daily and Sunday Masses and other liturgical ceremonies until May 15 in compliance with the government’s measures to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Services were moved online for daily and Sunday Masses as well as daily Bible reflections between March 25 and April 30.
State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi announced through her Facebook page on April 23 that the rules and directives issued by the national central committee on the prevention, control and treatment of Covid-19 have been extended from April 30 to May 15.
On April 30, the dioceses of Pyay and Pathein announced the extension of the suspension of Sunday Masses and other liturgical ceremonies to control the pandemic.
Bishop Alexander Pyone Cho from Pyay in a letter called on people to participate in Sunday Masses online as public Masses will not be held until May 15.
Funeral services must be held with a limited number of people at home and the sacrament of marriage is also needed to be held with the parish priest and family members, according to the letter.
Bishop John Hsane Hgyi of Pathein said in the April 30 letter that public Masses and other liturgy ceremonies will not be held at churches until May 15.
“Catholics are urged to participate in Sunday Masses spiritually from home and to say the rosary, read the Bible and pray,” Bishop Hsane Hgyi said.
Adoration chapels at churches will be open to the faithful with a detailed schedule arranged by parish priests and following guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
The letter also urged the faithful to follow local authorities' orders and guidelines from the ministry amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most dioceses in Myanmar have yet to announce the extension of suspending Masses.
The Church marked May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, with bishops leading the Mass with prayers for the workers, especially doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and daily laborers.
Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay urged the faithful to say the rosary daily individually or as a family throughout May to call for divine intercession to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
Pope Francis is encouraging the faithful to “rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home in May, whether individually or as a group, making the most of both opportunities.”
“Contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary, our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial,” the pope said in a letter for the Length of May released on April 25.
In Yangon, which has more than 110 confirmed cases, eight townships have been under semi-lockdown since April 18 and a 10pm-4am curfew has been imposed until mid-June.
Naypyitaw has issued new regulations effective from April 30 that diplomats, UN employees, NGOs and those who come to the city for work must have approval from their employers and not show any symptoms of disease.
People from townships that are under quarantine who come to Naypyitaw without the approval of local officials must be quarantined for 21 days at a facility.
Myanmar has reported 151 confirmed cases of Covid-19 including six deaths and 28 recoveries, according to the latest data.
According to the latest data, over 234,000 people have died out of more than 3.3 million confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide.
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