Macau’s churches and other Catholic temples will remain closed for the second weekend in a row, but the Diocese of Macau hopes that the cautious normalcy in which the territory has been immersed over the past 18 months can be restored as soon as possible.
The Diocese ordered the closure of churches late last week, after the Health Bureau identified four local infections with a strongly contagious strain of the new coronavirus. The local authorities conducted a massive test on the entire population of Macau. The fact that no new cases have been discovered led the Government to suspend the “state of immediate prevention” that had been in force ever since.
Despite the announcement, a substantial part of Macau’s businesses and economic activities are still paralyzed by prerogatives that also affect religious practices and activities: “As far as the reopening of the Churches is concerned, we will follow the instructions of the Government,” Father Daniel Ribeiro, the Parish Vicar of the Cathedral Church told O Clarim. “If I’m not wrong, until the 18th of August, major events are cancelled, as are the activities in gyms, temples and other religious spaces. We have not yet received any concrete information from the Government. Some people say that normalcy might be restored before the 18th, but when there are sudden changes of this kind, the initiative has to come from the Government. The Church simply follows the Government’s procedures. So far, there is no forecast for the reopening of the local Churches,” the Brazilian priest claims.
The shutdown – the second of the kind in a year and a half – forced the Diocese of Macau to reactivate the practice of online transmissions and to reduce the number of services provided, but the faithful, Father Daniel Ribeiro guarantees, showed a great understanding of the current circumstances: “People are used to take part in the Mass and comment that, even with online Mass, things are not comparable. Catholics miss the Church, they keep asking me when normal activities will resume, but, in general, there is a great understanding of the present situation,” the Dehonian missionary claims. “People understand that the decisions that were taken are aimed at preventing greater problems and are intended to prevent greater harm. They were on behalf of the common good. The Catholic community in Macau is very peaceful and easily accepts these kinds of things, especially those that cannot be changed. They accepted these circumstances peacefully, notwithstanding the fact that they lack the Church. They are well aware that online Mass is not exactly the same celebration, not least because it does not allow the Holy Eucharist to be distributed,” Father Daniel Ribeiro concludes.