Monday, March 9, 2020

#BreakingNews Coronavirus Fears causes Patriarchate to restrict Mass in Holy Land with call to "unite in solidarity prayer." Full Text

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem announced New Coronavirus measures on March 6. Millions of pilgrims visit Jerusalem and other holy cities such as Nazareth and Bethlehem every year. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Vatican's apostolic administrator, issued a statement. For Restrictions see below.

Latin Patriarchate extends new Coronavirus precautions to whole territory of Palestine
By: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem - Published: March 06 Fri, 2020
Latin Patriarchate extends new Coronavirus precautions to whole territory of Palestine Available in the following languages:
To all the Faithful, Priests and Religious in Palestine
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Lord give you peace!
Only yesterday I had to communicate to our communities in the pastoral region of Bethlehem and Jericho some instructions following the decree of the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Unfortunately, due to this situation, late in the evening President Abou Mazen was forced to declare a state of emergency throughout the country.
In compliance with the decree, I inform you that the instructions issued yesterday (March 5, 2020) for the pastoral region of Bethlehem, are extended to the entire territory of Palestine.
I invite the communities throughout the diocese, in Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus to unite in solidarity prayer. We pray first and foremost for the victims of this virus among us, and all over the world. Let us also pray for all who have been indirectly affected, those losing their jobs, for the many families who, in an already difficult and precarious situation, are now facing even greater economic and social difficulties.  During this time, let us remain united and supportive in prayer above all, and in all possible forms and means of mutual help and support.
We must not panic, but be aware that even in this present situation, we will pass this test.  We must not doubt, faith in Jesus helps us and always supports us. Christians are those who decide to live in love and not in fear.  We remain calm and firm in hope.
"Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts…" (Rom. 5,5).
In Christ,

March 6, 2020
+Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Apostolic Administrator

Full Text Source:
To all the Faithful, Priests and Religious of the pastoral region of Bethlehem

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

May the Lord give you peace!

The Palestinian Ministry of Health has issued a decree declaring the closure of schools, mosques and churches for 14 days, in order to reduce, as much as possible, the spread of the Corona Virus. Unfortunately, this danger is already in our midst, and with a sense of responsibility, we must cooperate with the authorities and those responsible for public health for the good of all.
In compliance with the Ministry’s decree, I would like to give you some practical guidelines for our present situation, some of which have already been previously communicated. These guidelines apply to all parishes, all churches, chapels, religious houses and any other place of worship in the territory of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and Jericho.  All other locations are exempt from this provision. I hope it will not be necessary to extend it to other locations in the future.
  1. That churches remain open only for individual prayer.  Public celebrations within the church must be reduced by applying the rules set out in No. 3.
  2. This provision also applies to Sundays. In this case, the faithful are exempt from the obligation of Sunday Mass participation.
  3. Masses can be celebrated, but only for groups of no larger than 15, provided, that there is sufficient distance between people in the church (at least one meter). Otherwise, celebrations cannot be held.
  4. Communion is given only on the hand.
  5. Avoid giving the sign of peace with the hands or any other form of body contact.
  6. Empty the holy water fonts in churches and chapels. Instead, I recommend that it be distributed to houses for prayer.
  7. Funerals must be held in cemeteries, with as few people as possible, but not in enclosed spaces.
  8. The Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross) can be held in the squares or open spaces, if the weather is appropriate, otherwise it will be prayed within one’s own family.
  9. All ecclesial and pastoral activities, including youth groups, scouts and others are canceled.
  10. If conditions permit, I invite all parish priests to organize online streaming of Masses through the use of the media and to communicate this possibility to their parishioners. The same applies to catechism and other similar initiatives
  11. I leave it to individual parish priests to find ways and forms to allow the faithful to receive the Eucharist, the Bread that gives us strength for the journey, as in holding outdoor Masses or by other means, but always in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry and with a sense of responsibility.
  12. We encourage everyone to pray at home, read the Bible, and continue to fast, asking God for mercy and forgiveness.

I invite all communities to pray for our brothers and sisters who are further isolated at this time. Prayer gives us strength.
I know that not everyone will agree to these guidelines, but I call on everyone to a sense of responsibility and unity. The strength which comes to us from communion with Christ Jesus, does not take away our human responsibility to protect, care for and heal our environment.
I wish everyone a blessed Lent!

In Christ,

+ Pierbattista Pizzaballa
Apostolic Administrator

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