http://www.fides.org

Asia

2003-06-26

ASIA/CHINA - JUNE 29 BEIJING CHURCHES OPEN AFTER SARS NIGHTMARE, CATHOLICS CAN GO TO MASS AGAIN

Beijing (Fides Service) – June 29 will be a day to remember for believers in Beijing. That day places of worship, closed for the SARS scare, will once again open their doors. Some parishes have already resumed daily masses with the faithful. Many have volunteered to help prepare the churches. One Beijing Catholic told Fides Service: “I am deeply touched. It’s like 1979 again when the first Catholic church NanTang (Immaculate Conception Church) was officially given back to the Catholic community after the Cultural revolution. For some time people have been asking when the churches would be opened again for the celebration of Mass suspended on 22 April this year. Many elderly Catholics are accustomed to attending daily mass. We are happy for this return to normality but we will continue to take precautions, adopting the necessary measures to avoid infection.”
In Beijing experts and authorities stress the importance of keeping watch for SARS. Some experts have suggested that June 24, the day the travel ban was lifted by the World Health Organisation, should be remembered as Public Heath Security Day in China.
Also in Hong Kong the local Church has issued post-SARS instructions for public celebrations of mass and the administration of the Sacraments,. The Church authorities say churches should be kept especially clean, people with respiratory problems should not to go to Church and the community sign of peace should be a bow of the head instead of shaking hands. NZ (Fides Service 26/6/2003 EM lines 27 Words: 273)

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