PETALING JAYA: The Peninsular Catholic Church has suspended all weekend and weekday masses from March 14 to 29 in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, which was declared a pandemic yesterday.
In a statement, the three dioceses, namely the KL Archdiocese, Penang Diocese and Malacca-Johor Diocese, called the suspension a “temporary measure in the face of the current crisis”.
“The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur is making arrangements to broadcast masses over the weekends in various major languages and weekday masses in English.”
It added that all catechism classes should be cancelled along with related programmes as well as activities, including fellowship gatherings.
“Any weddings or funerals are to be conducted privately with guests limited to immediate family members and close friends,” the statement read.
The statement was jointly signed by Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Julian Leow, Bishop of Melaka-Johor Bernard Paul and Bishop of Penang Sebastian Francis.
However, it said churches, chapels and prayer rooms would remain open for personal prayer sessions, while priests are still required to offer masses in private.
Earlier today, a public health think tank urged mosques, churches and temples to suspend weekly and regular prayer gatherings in the wake of new Covid-19 cases detected at houses of worship.
The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said Friday prayers, church masses and temple ceremonies should be temporarily stopped.
This came after authorities confirmed that a man who had attended a massive tabligh gathering at the Sri Petaling mosque in Kuala Lumpur was among the latest batch of Covid-19 patients, with efforts under way to track thousands of others who were at the same event.
Last month, the Catholic Church in Singapore suspended all masses indefinitely, both on weekdays and weekends, to prevent the spread of the virus.
Catholic Archbishop of Singapore William Goh said the move was to minimise the risk of a cluster outbreak of Covid-19 cases among the congregation and priests.
Putrajaya has also said it will consider issuing a directive to mosques to cancel the weekly Friday prayers if the Covid-19 pandemic does not show signs of improvement in the coming days.
Newly appointed minister in charge of Islamic affairs, Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri, also issued a four-point guideline for Muslims attending religious congregations, following the health authorities’ confirmation that a man who attended the tabligh event at Sri Petaling mosque had contracted Covid-19.