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Singapore Catholic Church to resume Masses on March 14

Paterno Esmaquel II
The Catholic Church in Singapore says it has put in place precautionary measures against the novel coronavirus

KEEPING THE FAITH. This photograph taken on February 23, 2020, shows Christian devotees listening to a pre-recorded mass by Singapore Archbishop William Goh on television inside their home as a protective measure to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Singapore. File photo by Martin Abbugao/AFP

SINGAPORE – The Roman Catholic Church in Singapore announced on Thursday evening, March 5, that it is set to resume public Masses in the afternoon of March 14, after a month-long suspension of church services due to the novel coronavirus.

The Catholic archbishop of Singapore, William Goh, earlier said he will lift the suspension on public Masses once the church has put in place precautionary measures against the novel coronavirus. These measures include the installation of thermal scanners in Singapore’s Catholic parishes.

“Sunset and Sunday Masses will resume on 14 March (Saturday) and 15 March (Sunday) when all the churches put in place the necessary precautionary measures,” the Archdiocese of Singapore announced on Thursday, adding that this decision is subject to guidelines and advisories by the city-state’s Ministry of Health.

Weekday Masses will also resume on March 16.

The archdiocese added, “While the necessary precautions have been put in place, for those who do not wish to take the risk, you are exempt from attending Mass to fulfill the Sunday obligation.”

Referring to the suspension of Masses, Goh said in a video interview dated February 29, “We know that this cannot continue indefinitely, because we are also aware that the COVID-19 might stay for as long as 3 to 6 months, and so as the Minister of Health reminds us, life must go on.”

The archbishop added: “We don’t want to suspend the Masses indefinitely for too long and unnecessarily. Our consideration is clear: Once the measures are in place, we will resume the Masses, so that we can give confidence to the people who come for the Masses that we will take all measures to protect them.”

The resumption of public Masses comes as the Catholic Church observes the 40-day penitential season of Lent. The Lenten season began with the observance of Ash Wednesday on February 26, with Catholics here making do with a live online Mass led by Goh, even marking their own foreheads with ashes. (READ: In Singapore, Ash Wednesday is do-it-yourself amid coronavirus)

The Catholic Church in Singapore suspended public Masses starting February 15, after local transmissions of the novel coronavirus disease called COVID-19 began in the city-state. Goh earlier said it would have been irresponsible for the Catholic Church to continue Masses in Singapore without putting in place precautionary measures. (READ: Keep the faith: Singapore churches go online amid coronavirus)

There are around 300,000 Catholics in Singapore, a country of 5.7 million people.

Two of the biggest COVID-19 clusters in Singapore have been linked to Protestant Christian churches. The Singaporean government has allowed religious groups to continue their services, however, as long as there are precautionary measures against the novel coronavirus.

There have been 117 novel coronavirus cases in Singapore as of Thursday. Of this number, 81 have fully recovered from the virus, and no one has died. Four of these COVID-19 cases in Singapore are Filipinos. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.