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Catholic Church in Timor-Leste cancels mass during Easter

Archbishop of Dili, Don Virgilio do Carmo da Silva SDB Archbishop of Dili, Don Virgilio do Carmo da Silva SDB Photo Special

TempoTimor(Dili) – The threat posed by the coronavirus (Covid-19) has forced the Catholic Church in Timor-Leste to cancel mass during Easter in the whole country. The decision was made during the Timorese Episcopal Conference (Konferensia Episkopal Timorense – CET) where the papal verdict regarding the Covid-19 crisis was confirmed.

The verdict was signed by the archbishop of Dili, Don Virgilio do Carmo da Silva SDB, the bishop of the Baucau Diocese, Don Basilio do Nascimento, and the bishop of Maliana Diocese, Don Norberto do Amaral.

“In difficult times like these, we do what we can do and leave the rest in God’s hands and plead to every citizen to be responsible for the common good,” Don Virgilio declared in the CET secretariat in Dili. The archbishop said: “Covid-19 is a pandemic that has spread throughout the world and this virus is easily infectious when crowds gather in a place.” Therefore the CET decided to cancel Easter masses for this year. Timor-Leste has one confirmed Covid-19 case. The patient is guarded and in isolation.

“The Timorese Episcopal Conference wants to appeal to all parishioners that although the bishops are responsible for the faith, the bishops are also responsible for lives and safety of all catholic parishioners,” archbishop Don Virgilio stated.

He stressed that the benchmark is not either weak or strong faith, but what matters is people’s health and life. “God gives wisdom to humans to avoid events that bring disaster to themselves as God says: ‘Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’,” the archbishop stated. “For this reason and to show our unity with the Pope and the universal church, the bishops declare to follow the papal verdict with guidelines for Covid-19,” Don Virgilio said. 

The Timorese Episcopal Conference published the following guidelines:

  1. Priests are encouraged to read, obey and convey the papal verdicts about Covid-19.
  2. Based on this decree, the bishops decided that all liturgical celebrations during the Easter period will take place without the participation of the parishioners.
  3. Parishioners attend the eucharistic ceremony from their homes, and they can watch mass which is broadcast directly live via radio or television. Even though there is no eucharistic communion, parishioners will practice a spiritual communion.
  4. Usually mass without communion is an incomplete mass, but because of the current worldwide calamity, the church allows its parishioners to practice spiritual communion.
  5. To prevent the danger of transmission and spreading of the virus, the priests are urged to follow rigorously the decision of the Pope and the Timorese bishops.
  6. The priests must not neglect their obligations, but are asked to perform their tasks in a prudent way.
  7. Convents, seminaries and religious communities will perform celebrations for their community members only.

These seven rules and guidelines entered into force as of the publication date, until further notice.

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Last modified on Thursday, 26 March 2020 08:08
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