Catholic Church to continue suspension of masses

The Archbishop of Singapore William Goh gives his sermon at a service at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Feb 14, 2020.
The Archbishop of Singapore William Goh gives his sermon at a service at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on Feb 14, 2020.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

A week after the Catholic Church said it would be resuming masses starting tomorrow, Archbishop of Singapore William Goh said yesterday that public masses for Catholics here will remain suspended to minimise the risk of coronavirus spread.

In a letter to Catholics posted on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore's website, Archbishop Goh said that with the outbreak being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, and coupled with the rising number of infections, masses this weekend will have to remain suspended.

Masses, which were first suspended on Feb 15, will be resumed when the situation has improved and stabilised, he said.

"When I made the announcement to lift the suspension last Thursday, it was in the context of a stabilised situation," said the Archbishop, who noted that since then, the global situation has become more serious and infections are rising.

"We are not helping the situation if we resume masses at this time, simply because of the sheer numbers of Catholics packing in each service, and their fluidity in moving from one parish to another, and attending different services.

"Furthermore, a large percentage of our parishioners belong to a vulnerable group - seniors with lower immunity," he added.

"As responsible Catholics, we should be mindful that we do not do anything that might further burden the already strained healthcare system," Archbishop Goh said.

He acknowledged that this was a decision that would not please all, but said that as head of the Catholic Church in Singapore, he had to decide for the common good. "Should anything untoward happen, it would be too late to regret," he said.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Malaysia will also be suspending all weekend and weekday public masses from today to March 29, a pastoral letter from the Catholic bishops in Malaysia said yesterday.

All catechism classes will also be closed, and programmes and activities will be cancelled during this period. Meetings and other events will also be cancelled or put on hold.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2020, with the headline 'Catholic Church to continue suspension of masses'. Print Edition | Subscribe