Montevideo (Agenzia Fides) - "It is with great sorrow that the Bishops of Uruguay accept the request that the government has addressed to the various religious communities to suspend the celebrations in the presence of the faithful until January 10th. The churches will remain open and the celebrations will be broadcast on social networks and media". The communication of the Bishops' Conference was released yesterday, 21 December, following a meeting between the Secretary of the Presidency of Uruguay, Álvaro Delgado, and the main representatives of the various religious communities present in Uruguay. The main theme of the meeting with religious leaders was the evolution of the pandemic in Uruguay and the application of health measures for the celebrations of religious holidays which bring together thousands of faithful.
In addition to Cardinal Daniel Sturla, Archbishop of Montevideo, the authorities of the Israelite Central Committee, representatives of the Bishops' Conference of Uruguay, the Israelite Congregation of Uruguay, the German Evangelical Congregation of Montevideo (German Lutheran Church), the Anglican Church of Uruguay and the Armenian Evangelical Church were summoned.
In the press release released after the meeting, the Bishops state: "As part of the Masses that have been celebrated since June 19, there have been no cases of contagion. As Christmas approaches, this decision is doubly painful. As a Church, we had already suspended a series of activities, among others: camps, youth missions and visits to neighborhoods. In accepting this request, we are aware of the affliction of many faithful who will not be able to participate directly in the worship of the living God. Freedom of religion is a right enshrined in our Constitution. We are confident that we will continue to care of each other and that with God's help we will soon be able to come out of this situation and celebrate our faith in community once again".
At the beginning of this pandemic, representatives of different faiths had signed a "protocol" that included a series of restrictions on the participation of the faithful in religious celebrations to avoid the spread of the virus. For example, it was established that the celebrations "cannot last more than 45 minutes" and that places of worship must have a capacity of "one third of the seats". In addition, it provided for the possibility of one celebration per day during which the use of masks will be mandatory.
The situation of the Covid pandemic in Uruguay is still delicate: the total number of cases are 13,048 including 119 deaths, out of a population of 3.5 million inhabitants, knowing that a potential second wave is feared. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 22/12/2020)