With the outbreak of COVID 19, the Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, offer recommendations to the Catholic Faithful of Myanmar. Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, provided the guidelines to Zenit.
1. Persons displaying flu-like symptoms, e.g. fever, running nose, sore throat, cough, cold, etc. are advised to stay home and avoid public places including churches. Such persons are exempted from Sunday and Feast day obligations.
2. Catholics who are not able to attend Mass for the above reasons are encouraged to stay home and read the Sunday Liturgy of the Word, make an act of Spiritual Communion and keep oneself united with the Lord.
3. Prayers are to be offered privately at home and in all parishes:
– Pray for the victims, especially those who have died and for their grieving family members.
– Pray for medical professionals – doctors, nurses, and health personnel who are providing health care to patients.
– Pray that the world health experts will speedily develop vaccines and ways to control the outbreak.
4. In solidarity with all our brothers and sisters in the world every Holy Mass, the General Intercessions be included.
5. Practical Recommendations and Precautions during Masses and Services:
a. As a temporary measure, abstain from providing Holy water at the Church entrance and the stoops be kept dry.
b. At Mass during “sign of peace”, bow instead of shake hands.
c. Encourage our people to receive Holy Communion in the hand.
d. Before and after distribution of Holy Communion the Priest/Minister should purify their hands.
e. We strongly appeal to all the faithful to refrain from kissing and touching sacred images and statues during the time to a crisis.
– For the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday, there will not be the kissing of the Cross. Those who wish could venerate the Cross just kneel down and bow.
– there will not be the ‘Washing of the feet’ on Maundy Thursday.
– The Easter vigil be celebrated as early as possible on Holy Saturday around 5.00 – 7.00 pm. There will not be the mid-night Mass.
f. Clergy and faithful alike should use best practices through careful hand-washing and frequent cleaning of liturgical space and objects ( e.g. sacred statues and sacred vessels. Our liturgical space and objects should be disinfected/sanitized after every liturgical service.
g. The World Health Organization ( WHO) confirms that the coronavirus can spread through money. Those who count the collection must wear face- mask and use alcohol after counting.
h. Confessions are to be done in the Confessional with a protective cloth installed at the grill. Both the confessors and penitents wear the face -masks.
i. The faithful should put on a self-provided mask before entering a church. While leaving the church, they should not throw the used masks and paper tissues at random.
j. Let containers of 70 percent Ethyl Alcohol be located ( if possible) at various entrance doors accessible to the public in our church institutions.
6. The Government authorities in the world and in Myanmar are doing their best to face this challenge. All of us need to co-operate with the guidance provided by the Ministry of Health and Sports.
– All meetings, gatherings, formations, fellowships, and events in church and halls be canceled and put on hold during this period.
– Any weddings or funerals are to be conducted privately with guests limited to immediate family members and close friends.
– All catechisms classes and Praise and Worship gatherings and Seminars should be stopped during this period.
– In like manner, we should be canceled or postpone pastoral activities such as Ordinations, Jubilees or Feast programs that might see people gathered in large numbers.
– Keep doors and windows open for the maintenance of good ventilation.
7. While taking the precautions, all the faithful should remain calm and put trust in the Lord. Fear could be worse than the virus.
– Churches and Adoration chapels be kept open so that the faithful spend time in front of the Lord pleading for the grace of healing.
– Priests are required to offer Masses for the spiritual good of the Church, the intentions of the faithful and the alleviation of the present crisis.
– We should have a special collection to help those affected by COVID 19.
– Holy Father Pope Francis, encourages the leaders of the Church to stay close to the flock. There are many ways with which we can be near our flock.
– Not to abandon those who are in need of Sacraments: Holy Communion to the sick, anointing of the sick, Sacrament of Reconciliation, etc…
Note: – Each diocese will adapt according to the guidance offered by the Diocesan Bishop and the local authorities. These guidelines are valid until further notice recommended by the Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM)