Polish archbishop: Not praying in churches during coronavirus outbreak 'unthinkable'

Krakow Poland Credit Juan Salmoral via Flickr CC BY NC ND 20 CNA 10 28 15 Krakow. | Juan Salmoral via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The president of the Polish bishops' conference has asked for an increase in the number of Sunday Masses said in the country so that more people can attend safely amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"In connection with the recommendations of the Chief Sanitary Inspector that there should be no large gatherings of people, I ask to increase – as far as possible – the number of Sunday Masses in churches so that a number of believers can attend the liturgy … according to the guidelines of the sanitary services," Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki of Poznań wrote in a statement sent March 10 to CNA.

Because among a church's function is to cure spiritual disease, "it is unthinkable that we do not pray in our churches," he reflected.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Poland, and zero deaths. The country has imported cases only; that is, all cases have been acquired outside its territory.

Worldwide, there are 109,577 confirmed cases, and 3,809 deaths.

Archbishop Gądecki recalled that in these circumstances, the elderly and sick have no obligation to attend Mass, and added that "there is no requirement to exchange the sign of peace by shaking hands during Holy Mass."

He asked for prayers for those who have died as a result of coronavirus, adding: "Let us pray for the health of the sick and for the physicians, medical personnel and all services that work to stop the spread of the virus," and "for the epidemic to end."

Archbishop Gądecki especially encouraged, "in accordance with the tradition of the Church", praying the Trisagion, from the Adoration of the Cross during the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday.

Many Churches around the world have issued precautionary guidelines for Masses, or cancelled public Masses entirely, because of the coronavirus outbreak which originated in China late last year.

The new strain of coronavirus causes a respiratory disease, COVID-19, and has a fatality rate of roughly 3%. The vast majority of cases and deaths have been in China.

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