José Mario O Mandía
– Marco Carvalho
It is one of the most emblematic Catholic traditions in Macau, but for the first time in many years it will not crisscross the streets of the Special Administrative Region. Dating back to 1708 and scheduled for February 29, the procession of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus was canceled by the Diocese of Macau. The decision reflects the prudence with which the local Church is managing the response to the new coronavirus, Father Daniel Ribeiro says.
An act of prudence and wisdom. This is how the parochial-vicar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Nativity refers to the decision, made this week by the Diocese of Macau, to cancel what is, perhaps, the most emblematic manifestations of the Catholic faith in Macau, the procession of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus.
Father Daniel Ribeiro admits that the decision deprives the local Christians of a moment with a great symbolism in terms of faith, but he argues that the maintenance of the Procession by the Diocese would constitute a risk that Macau’s Church cannot afford to run: “The procession has a very pedagogical meaning in terms of faith. It reminds us that human life is a great journey. The procession is also an act of penance and is something that strengthens the way people experience their devotion,” the young minister claims. “However, to organize the procession is not an option for the Catholic Church. The Church would be very reckless if she were to conduct this procession now,” Daniel Ribeiro stresses.
The young Brazilian priest is utterly convinced that the procession of Our Lady of Fatima will not be affected by a similar fate and that in May, the local Catholics will take to the streets with a renewed vigor for the second great Procession of the year: “We believe that in May things will be controlled and stabilized. In May, we will have, if God wants, the procession of Our Lady of Fatima and that procession will be very beautiful and through this procession we will meet and celebrate our faith with a renewed strength,” the parochial vicar predicts. “It will be the ideal occasion to recover everything that has been lost due to the fact that this procession is not taking place now,” he maintains.
Despite having canceled the procession, the Diocese maintains the novena of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus, an initiative that since yesterday and until next Friday will be broadcasted over the internet and can be seen on the website of the Diocese of Macau. On February 29, Saturday, the Diocese will also celebrate Mass – both in Cantonese and in Portuguese – in honor of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus.