By Ivy Chai
KUCHING — The Catholic Archbishop of Kuching, Archbishop Simon Poh, in a written press statement dated 24 March, informed that when he requested for the suspension of Masses in Catholic Churches to start from Sunday 15 March to 3 April, he based the suspension on the 14-day window. Christians would then be able to celebrate Holy Week starting with Palm Sunday on 5 April and Good Friday on 10 April.
He had discussed with Bishop Danald of the Anglican Church, where all Christian Churches were encouraged to do likewise. “Through a letter I sent out as Chairman of the Association of Churches in Sarawak on 19 March, I explained the importance of the urgency to use this 14-day window to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak by flattening the infection curve so that the medical facilities will not be overwhelmed by cases. Currently all our Masses and Services are broadcast live online by the Catholic Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.”
“Staying focused on my initial intention for the suspension with the single aim of helping control COVID-19 outbreak in the state, we trust that our State Disaster Relief Committee has the best concern for its people. Should the further extension of MCO be needed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, I will give my full support as the Archbishop of Kuching as well as from the Association of Churches in Sarawak,” he added.
With the news of the extension of the MCO to 14 April, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia came out with a Pastoral letter based on the guidelines announced by Pope Francis on 20 March for the celebration of Holy Week without the presence of the faithful in Church.
“We are now in the process of preparing to do live-stream and broadcast for the Holy Week Masses and Services on Facebook and YouTube. I appeal to all Catholics who are under moral obligation, to ‘STAY AT HOME’ to help contain and mitigate the further outbreak of new clusters of COVID-19.
“Let us continue to pray for our front liners and for the safety and health of everyone. I will be imparting my blessing and invoking God’s protection on each and every one and our families,” said Archbishop Simon Poh.
The schedule of the Holy Week Masses will be uploaded on the website of the Archdiocese of Kuching, as well as Facebook and Today’s Catholic Online, in due course.