Vietnam archdiocese halts activities to stem Covid-19

Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City calls for churches to suspend Masses and urges faithful to pray at home
Vietnam archdiocese halts activities to stem Covid-19

Catholics in procession prepare to celebrate the feast of Annunciation Day at Hy Vong Church in Ho Chi Minh City on March 24. (Photo courtesy of tgpsaigon.net)

The most active archdiocese in southern Vietnam has called off daily Masses and other liturgical services at churches to contain the worsening coronavirus pandemic. 

On March 25, Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City called for all local churches and chapels to temporarily suspend Masses and all other religious activities with the faithful in attendance, starting at 4pm on March 26, until there is a new announcement.

He asked priests to perform daily Masses in private “to appeal to God to grant mercy to all humankind as Masses are always the center and pinnacle of Church life, the source of redemption, and people’s blessing and peace.”

Priests are allowed to celebrate funeral Masses at churches with only the deceased’s relatives in attendance.

The prelate said churches should be open for the faithful to pray in front of the Eucharist, who is present among people until the end of the world.

He urged Catholics to be aware of their duty of praying privately or with their family members by daily contemplating God’s word, reciting the rosary and attending Masses which are livestreamed twice a day via the archdiocese’s website. They are also asked to suspend weddings during the pandemic.

Archbishop Nang said the cancellation of Masses and liturgical ceremonies is a hard decision, especially in Holy Week and Easter because the diocese has never suspended services in its 176-year history.

He said local Catholics and others in the country have to try their best to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the cancellation of religious services not only ensures their safety but is an act of love and responsibility because they are part of the nation and the world.

Archbishop Nang said the deadly pandemic may be a flood that purifies humankind and renews the world. “We should trust in God and pin our hopes on Jesus’ words ‘It is I, do not be afraid’,” he said.

Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic in the country’s largest commercial city is worsening and entering a new stage, the prelate said he took the latest preventive measures at the government’s request.

On March 24, Ho Chi Minh City authorities ordered beauty salons, entertainment venues, gyms, restaurants and beer bars that are able to serve over 30 customers to close until March 31. Those who violate the measure will be heavily punished.

Nguyen Thien Nhan, party chief of the city, asked people to wear face masks when they go out, limit shopping trips and cook at home during the next two weeks to keep the number of Covid-19 cases under 500 across the country.

On March 26, the health ministry warned people against leaving their homes unless necessary. People over 60 should remain at home all the time.

The ministry called on people to report to authorities those who have entered the country since March 8 and not isolated themselves.

It reported that the country has 148 confirmed coronavirus patients, including 17 who have recovered, and some 46,500 suspected cases who are quarantined or monitored at public facilities and homes.

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