ASIA/MALAYSIA - Suspended masses and catechism online due to a peak of Covid-19 cases and the State of emergency

Friday, 22 January 2021 pandemic   sacraments   local churches   catechism  

Kuala Lumpur (Agenzia Fides) - The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur has decided to extend the suspension of all public celebrations until further notice as the national health system is in an extremely difficult situation, given a spike in cases of Covid-19 that has terrified the political world and society. In the first week of January, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the adoption of stricter measures for the safety of public health due to the increase in the number of infections from Covid-19 because "our health system is at the breaking point", he said. On January 12, King Al-Sultan Abdullah of Malaysia declared a "national state of emergency" and the suspension of Parliament until August 1, 2021 in order to combat the new wave of coronavirus.
"In compliance with the government's health protocols, the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur has set up a crisis task force and has adapted to comply with current restrictions", said Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim. The local Church had already lived Christmas without celebrations "in presence" and, since mid-December 2020, had suspended public masses and liturgies until Epiphany. Now, with the exponential increase in new cases nationwide, this suspension continues.
As reported to Fides, the task force has provided several guidelines for parish territories that fall under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese. Therefore, all Sacraments and ecclesial services including baptisms (except in emergencies), confirmations, Masses, and marriages have been suspended as of January 14 until further notice. Only in emergency cases can the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, Confession and Viaticum be administered. Funeral Masses are not celebrated in church. The short funeral rite can be held in church with the presence of a restricted assembly.
"As the world continues to face this pandemic, all the faithful are invited to ask for the intercession of Our Lady and Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, animated by resilience and by a firm faith, hope and charity", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Michael Chua, Chancellor of the diocese, adding: "We continue to pray for all the victims of this pandemic, for the safety of all health workers, for the good and prosperous future of our nation".
In this time of emergency, the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur has also decided to hold catechism lessons digitally using platforms such as Zoom. The new catechetical year begins on January 24 and, while the current social restrictions are quite strong, "catechists canhold lessons online. It is part of their vocation and mission to learn new skills and adapt to difficult situations", said Archbishop Leow, inviting all parishes to also use other tools such as WhatsApp, email and social media to continue the formation in the faith of students, children and teenagers. In the meantime, the National Catechetical Office and the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur are currently training new lay catechists on themes of vocation, mission and spirituality, specifically responsible for offering catechism in virtual form to students. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 22/1/2021)