Archbishop Christopher announces churches are closed
ALL churches across the Archdiocese must close, a heavy-hearted Archbishop Christopher announced today.
The Archbishop acknowledged that people would feel sad and dismayed but said the government’s coronavirus protocols applied to all groups and the church must respect the rules and respond.
“Locking the doors of our churches is something I do with a very heavy heart,” Archbishop Christopher said.
“I know this will be very hard on many people. It’s very hard on me too. We had stopped public Masses and I thank you for your cooperation with that.
“But the latest government protocols means we now have to lock our churches. I know that is a great regret for so many people but we have to respond like everyone else is.”
Other new Archdiocesan protocols, effective immediately, are:
• No baptisms except for emergency situations
• A maximum of five people for weddings
• A maximum of 10 people for funerals.
Almost 40 adults who had been doing the RCIA program were due to be baptised and received into the church at Easter. That has been cancelled.
Archbishop Christopher said Pope Francis was sharing love and pastoral care with the world’s Catholics every day and he encouraged parishioners to read the Pope’s homilies and messages.
“If parishioners have access to the internet I highly recommend the Vatican site news.va where you will find Pope Francis’ Masses and homilies,” he said. “They are excellent and everything is translated into English.
“Pope Francis wants us particularly now to pray the Our Father. On Friday he will be giving a special blessing from the Vatican for the protection and healing of the world.
“We also have daily Mass online here in the Archdiocese which is a great comfort for many people. That is at our Catholic Voice website which is catholicvoice.org.au.”
There will be Sunday Mass on free-to-air WIN TV from the Melbourne Archdiocese.
With no public Masses and church doors shut, some priests are adopting new and creative ways to connect parishioners such as phone trees and bulk emails and mail-outs.
“I commend the phone tree initiative where people have a list of parishioners to call, particularly older people who are on their own, to check in with them and see what they need,” Archbishop Christopher said.
“Let’s go to homes and share printed prayers because many people are not online. Check if people need shopping. It’s great that this is happening and that so many young people are involved too.
“And let’s share other creative suggestions about how we can maintain our spiritual closeness.”
Archbishop Christopher said many families would suffer financially and there would be more stress at home due to job losses and caring for children. He urged Catholics to keep in touch and support one another.
“I want people to feel my loving heart for them and my spiritual encouragement,” he said.