KUCHING: The Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches in Sarawak are suspending Masses and activities from this week till early April as concern mounts over the recent development surrounding the spread of Covid-19.
The Anglican churches in Sarawak and Brunei are suspending all church services from today (March 15) until April 1.
Bishop of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei, the Right Reverend Datuk Danald Jute said in a statement on Friday that this will be a temporary measure until further advice from the authorities.
“In light of the increasing number of Covid-19 infections in Sarawak and Brunei and taking into consideration the latest advisory from the Ministry of Health along with professional views expressed and conveyed to us, we have decided to temporarily suspend our Sunday and weekday church services effective today (March 15) till April 1, 2020.
“There is no need to panic. On the contrary, let us each draw ever nearer to God in fervent prayers for his healing power,” he said.
Bishop Danald said the Anglican churches in the state as well as Brunei are encouraged to conduct live-streaming of their church services through various Internet platforms, with a small number of congregations present in the churches.
Meanwhile Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Simon Poh said in a statement yesterday that churches within the Archdiocese of Kuching will be suspending all weekend and weekday public masses from March 20 to April 3 as a temporary measure.
The church continues to monitor and review the situation to determine if the period of suspension needs to be extended beyond April 3.
“We therefore exempt all Catholics from fulfilling their Sunday obligation of attending Mass during this period,” he said.
Other measures taken include the cancellation of all catechism classes, Sunday school, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) sessions, meetings, gatherings, formations, fellowships and events.
Weddings and funerals may be conducted privately for immediate family members and close friends. Parishioners are to contact their parish offices for Sacraments of Penance (Confession), Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion for the home bound.
“Churches and chapels shall remain open for private and personal prayer and Eucharistic adoration according to the times scheduled by respective parishes.
“We are making arrangements to broadcast masses online over the weekends in various major languages and will provide the links as soon as we have them,” Poh added, saying that live-streaming though not a substitute still serves as a form of spiritual devotion.
“We recommend the faithful to read the Word of God, especially the prescribed readings for the Mass of the day, pray the Holy Rosary, fast and offer up other spiritual exercises and devotions to invoke God’s intervention for an end to this crisis,” he said.
The Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) chairman said the current measures taken are in accordance with the recommendation of the Ministry of Health and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee to postpone all mass gatherings of more than 250 people.
In his capacity as ACS chairman, Poh instructed that all association gatherings, church events and seminars in Sarawak be cancelled.
At the time of writing, the State Disaster Management Committee reported six new Covid-19 cases bringing the total of positives cases to nine so far.
Its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said two new cases recorded in Limbang and four new cases recorded in Kuching involve a cluster of people who attended a religious gathering at Sri Petaling Mosque in Kuala Lumpur from Feb 27- March 1.