Religious activities practiced with community responsibility

(VOVWORLD) - The Chairman of the Episcopal Council of Vietnam and bishops have instructed Catholic dignitaries and followers to implement Covid-19 disease prevention measures recommended by the government and healthcare agencies. Religious followers have practiced their religion with a sense of community responsibility.
Religious activities practiced with community responsibility - ảnh 1Buon Me Thuot diocese 

Following the Prime Minister’s Decree 16 on emergency measures to reduce risks of Covid-19 infection and transmision, dioceses nationwide have suspended normal masses and other religious activities and are conducting these activities online instead.

Community efforts to fight the disease

On March 25, Archbishop of the Ho Chi Minh City Archdiocese Nguyen Nang sent out a letter instructing all churches and chapters to halt masses and other religious activities beginning 4PM on March 26. In the letter, Archbishop Nang urged dignitaries and followers to join Christians and non-Christians nationwide to fight the disease and protect themselves and the community.

On March 28, the Catholic Diocese of Bui Chu issued a statement saying: “In Rome and in many other dioceses around the world, pastors have decided to halt all masses and pastoral activities that gather crowds of people. We are aware of our responsibility to protect the health and lives of everyone.”

On March 27, the Bishop of Buon Ma Thuot sent out a letter asking all 106 dioceses in Dak Nong, Dak Lak, and Binh Phuoc province to halt masses and other religious activities in order to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The Bishop urged religious followers to stay at home, postpone weddings, and hold funerals with only a pastor and close relatives present.

Nghiem Van Chuan, Head of the Committee for Religious Affairs of Dak Lak province, said that although it is now Easter and the birth anniversary of the Buddha, religious establishments in the province must implement disease prevention measures, including canceling gatherings or holding them online.

"We asked religious dignitaries and heads of religious organizations to implement disease prevention measures, including cancelling or postponing all masses until further notice. In response to Decree 16, during the Easter holiday we will conduct all religious activities online. We believe every religious organization in Dak Lak province is cooperating for community health," said Chuan.

Community responsibility

While the community is practising social distancing, 6 dioceses in Ha Tinh province held masses on Saturday and Sunday, drawing  from 200  to 500 Catholic followers and posing a risk of infecting the community. These people were later made aware of the risk by local authorities.

"We usually go to the church in the morning. In response to the government’s call for social distancing, we have not come to the church during this period. I think social distancing helps protect us," said a Catholic follower.

"To avoid large gatherings, we have stopped visiting the Church and are now worshiping online. During the upcoming Easter holiday, we will join online religious activities. We are grateful for the things the Party, the government, and the Prime Minister have done to fight the epidemic and keep us safe," said a Catholic follower.

Canceling religious gatherings and activities at this time of the year – during the Easter holiday - was a difficult decision for Catholic dignitaries. While the rest of society is taking steps to fight the epidemic, these efforts by Catholics are very important. A letter from the Vietnam Archdiocese in 1980 urged Catholics to live the gospel in order to serve the community. Now they need to follow disease prevention measures and regulations set by the Health Ministry.