Protocols Governing Reopening of Catholic Churches in Line with SOP

KUALA LUMPUR: The commencement of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, and the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) in Pahang and Terengganu effective yesterday, will see protocols governing the reopening of Roman Catholic churches, chapels and Mass centres updated in line with standard operating procedures (SOP).

Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur Chancellor Reverend Father Michael Chua said in a notice, effective March 5, Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Most Reverend Julian Leow Beng Kim had decreed that all parishes may resume public Masses from March 13 (unless Masses had resumed earlier) with a capacity that should not exceed 30 per cent of its original seating capacity to ensure that there is compliance of the minimum 1 metre distance between persons.

He also decreed that all SOPs outlined by the Health Ministry dated March 4 and the Archdiocesan Guidelines for the Celebration of Sacraments are to be strictly observed.

Meanwhile, funerals, baptisms, weddings, and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) may continue to be celebrated whilst observing the requirements under paragraph 1.

Funeral parlours located within churches may be opened but wakes are not permitted. Visitors may pay a short visit (not exceeding 10 minutes) to offer personal prayer for the deceased or extend condolences and well wishes to the family.

There shall be no penitential services but parishes within a district may collaborate to organise schedules for hearing confessions by the district clergy. Social distancing, non- crowding and the need to create a safe well-ventilated environment should be observed.

Holy communion for the homebound and elderly may be arranged by the Parish Priest or the Administrator whilst ensuring that both the minister of holy communion or communicant are not exposed to unnecessary risks.

Catechism classes, RCIA sessions, formations and meetings (except when a physical meeting is necessary) shall continue online until further notice.

Father Chua also said that receptions, meals and fellowship on the church premises are not permitted.

“All parishes, chapels and Mass centres should ensure that their premises are well-ventilated with safe environments for worship,” he added.

“The faithful must be educated to avoid the 3Cs, namely crowded and confined spaces and close conversations; and practise the 3Ws, which is frequent washing of hands, wearing of face masks and observing watchful vigilance.

“These protocols will be reviewed and updated from time to time as we continue to monitor the public health situation.

“Let us continue to pray for our frontliners and for victims of Covid-19,” he said.


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