ASIA/MALAYSIA - In Kuala Lumpur, the Church suspends all public Masses and liturgies until Epiphany due to the pandemic

Saturday, 19 December 2020 sacraments   pandemic   local churches  

Kuala Lumpur (Agenzia Fides) - The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur has suspended all public masses in all parishes, churches, chapels from Christmas Eve (December 24) until the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (January 6) due to the precarious public health situation. The faithful will live the Christmas liturgy thanks to the media. Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim explained to the faithful in Kuala Lumpur: "The Christmas season is one of the most important and sacred times in our Church's liturgical calendar. It includes the passion and devotion of the faithful who wish to come together in public celebration, but we came to this difficult decision by recognizing many concomitant factors".
As reported to Agenzia Fides by the Archdiocese's Chancellor Reverend Father Michael Chua, the decision was made after the recommendations given by the Archdiocesan Crisis Management Task Force to suspend all public masses due to the pandemic that continues to put so many human lives at risk.

According to Father Chua, although the Church has been both prudent and cautious in implementing public safety recommendations as well as additional protocols proposed by the task force, such measures may be inadequate to address additional risks imposed by the expected large crowds for Christmas. The Church has assessed the difficulty of complying with additional restrictions from the public health authorities, such as the limit in numbers allowed to attend Masses. The hike in sporadic cases and emergence of new clusters in these past few weeks increase the risks of transmission in closed-door large gatherings such as a public mass.
Given the situation, all the faithful within the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur have been dispensed by Archbishop Leow from the obligation of participating in mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. On the other hand, everyone is invited to follow the celebrations online: the Masses for the Christmas season will be live streamed on the diocesan channel.
In his Christmas message, sent to Agenzia Fides, Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim affirms that "God's love touches everyone's life" and "the baptized will be able to spend this sacred period in the company of their loved ones offering prayer and adoration to the child God".
"2020 – says the Archbishop in the text – has been a difficult year for us. We have had to face many adversities, challenges and uncertainties. The pandemic that has afflicted the whole world has affected us physically, financially, emotionally and spiritually. But Christmas comes just in time to remind us that adversity, vulnerability and uncertainty are the normal experiences of God's people as we approach the Kingdom of Heaven". "How Joseph and Mary encountered obstacles while going to Bethlehem when Jesus was about to come to the world, we face a journey among fears, doubts, hopes, clinging to the truth that is in the birth of this Child: He fulfills all the good promises of God", reads the message.
"God is with us and shares our human life, joys and challenges along with our pain and suffering. The word Emmanuel magnificently describes the gift of Christmas. It means: God is with us. This is the main message of Christmas. This is the message that we bring for the whole world to hear: God is with us, now and always, despite the adversities that come our way". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/12/2020)