Ahmadabad (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Church in Gujarat, western India, opened its churches on June 15 to allow the personal, silent prayers of the faithful, while the nation is still under lockdown, due to Covid- 19. As Fides learns, public masses in churches continue to be suspended until the health crisis improves. The federal government allowed the partial and possible reopening of religious places of worship starting from June 8, under the guidance of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
"The government is doing its best to contain this pandemic and we have fully collaborated with the directives given. We hoped to be able to start celebrating Holy Mass with the people in the churches again from June 8, but the cases of contagion for coronavirus in Gujarat increase every day, and we do not really know how many asymptomatic Covid-19 patients exist among us", reads a statement of the Catholic Bishops of Gujarat, released on June 13. The Bishops note that people have become "more vulnerable than they were before" and that one could enter, even unconsciously, "in the phase of transmission of the virus to the community".
Sensing the need to be careful and prudent, the Bishops have ordered that only the churches in some areas, where the presence of the virus is averted, have reopened for worship for the Corpus Christi feast. All the other churches can instead be opened daily to allow people to pray, in a strictly individual and private way, at set times.
Archbishop Stanislao Fernandes, apostolic Administrator of Baroda, explains that each parish priest will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the government protocols prescribed for religious places, including social distancing, the prohibition of entry for people over the age of 65 and under 10 years of age, the ban on collecting offers, the regular disinfection of the premises.
In India, Christian churches have remained closed and all catechetical, liturgical and pastoral activities have been suspended since March 25, since the beginning of the national lockdown imposed by the government for Covid-19. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 16/6/2020)