08 May 2020
Limited reopening of churches welcomed
The Catholic Church in SA has welcomed the announcement by Premier Steven Marshall that churches may reopen for private prayer and that funeral numbers have increased.
The impact of the changes, effective from Monday, are:
- Churches may reopen for private prayer. Numbers will be restricted to 10 people plus staff. They are not open for either private/public masses except for funeral, weddings and baptisms.
- Funerals now permitted to have 20 indoors and 30 people outdoors plus those officiating.
- Weddings now permitted to have 10 people plus those officiating.
- Private baptisms are allowed to resume with 10 people plus those officiating.
Apostolic Administrator Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ said the ability to go into a church and pray would be greatly appreciated by the faithful during this difficult period.
“To be able to pray as individuals or as a small group, with appropriate social distancing, will bring comfort and a sense of peace to many members of our community,” Bishop O’Kelly said.
“While we have been able to take worship to people’s homes through live streaming, this is not accessible to everyone, and the ability to walk into a church and pray should not be underestimated.”
Bishop O’Kelly said parishes would be asked to measure their church spaces to give an indication of how many people would fit, based on the 4sqm per person rule.
They should also develop strategies to allow appropriate physical distancing such as sectioning off every second pew, marking spaced seating, and developing times and rosters for private prayer.
Bishop O’Kelly said he was heartened by recent discussions between faith leaders and Premier Steven Marshall on the easing of restrictions and his commitment to work with churches around the issue of recommencing Masses.
“I am very conscious of the pain our people are feeling at not being able to receive the Eucharist but we also need to be mindful of the devastating impact of COVID-19 and the need to be cautious and vigilant,” he said.