AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Covid-19: marriages postponed until "it is safe to celebrate the Sacrament with freedom and festivity

Thursday, 17 September 2020 coronavirus   local churches   sacraments  

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - " The best is to defer marriages until it is safe to celebrate the Sacrament with greater freedom and with greater festivity", said the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, Sylvester David, in a statement , sent to Agenzia Fides, on preventive measures to combat the Covid-19 epidemic.
"In the event that a couple is unable to wait until conditions become more favorable, says Mgr. David, a marriage may be celebrated with no more than the couple, the witnesses and the immediate family members of the couple in attendance", continues the statement, which warns: "every precaution must be taken to ensure that persons with co-morbidities are not invited".
While the South African government allows for a maximum number of 50 people for such a ceremony, the Archdiocese has found it necessary to restrict the numbers to not more than 25 people or even less. This is "interest of safety and with due regard for effective tracing should this become necessary", explains Mgr. David.
Regarding Baptisms, the statement stesses that "only one child at a time may be baptized per celebration", and "care must be taken to have in attendance only one sponsor and the immediate family members of the child being baptized". "In accordance with canon law, where the danger of death exists, Baptism is to be administered without delay" the statement reads.
The Bishop also announces the decision of the Archdiocesan leadership to revise Mass attendance numbers upwards, a decision he says resulted from people "becoming accustomed to the necessary safety measures". Following this decision, parishes that resumed public Mass with six congregants are advised to increase the number to 15, while those that had 15 are to revise the number to 25.
South Africa, which is one of the Countries that imposed an early and rigorous lockdown, has announced an easing of traffic restrictions as the number of new cases per day fell to fewer than 2,000 compared to 12,000 in July.
Night curfew will be reduced from 20 September onwards and gatherings in closed places will be allowed, but only 50% of the capacity. In South Africa there are 653 cases of Covid-19 registered so far, with 15,705 deaths. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 17/9/2020)