Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, has issued guidelines for the re-opening of churches from October 7.
Sunday mass will be conducted on Saturdays to reduce crowding in churches; the distribution of holy communion will be prohibited and senior citizens have been asked to refrain from coming to church, as a precautionary measure.
Nigel Barrett, spokesperson, Archdiocese of Bombay told the FPJ, “On Saturday evening, one can fulfil the Sunday obligation. The mass has also been moved forward to Saturday morning to reduce the numbers in the church. The number of people allowed will be one-third of the capacity of the church.”
Pews and floors in churches will be regularly sanitised. There will be a separate door for entry and exit and a provision made for hand sanitisation outside the church. An usher at the entrance will conduct thermal screening for those entering and no one will be allowed to enter the church unless they are wearing a mask. The number of participants at mass in the church will be reduced.
“Sprinkling of holy water is not allowed except for babies at baptism, couples for marriages and for funerals. Water stoops will be kept dry. The civil regulations do not permit for choir to sing. There will be no touching of statues and no use of hymn books is permitted. The matter regarding sacraments will be discussed. Distribution of holy communion is prohibited,” stated Cardinal Gracias in his circular on Wednesday to all parish priests.
Melwyn Fernandes from the Association of Concerned Catholics said, “We are happy that finally our churches are re-opening after a long wait of 18 months. We will have to maintain 1/3rd crowd in all the churches, so more masses will be held and Sunday liturgy is the same from Saturday morning. The only sad thing is that the most prayerful and frequent churchgoers - senior citizens – must refrain from attending church.”