03/12/2020, 10.39
UAE - MIDDLE EAST
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Arabian Peninsula, masses and celebrations suspended to combat the spread of the coronavirus

Authorities ask public to "scrupulously comply" with the health regulations. Even in Kuwait places of worship closed until March 14th. Masses, spiritual retreats, prayer meetings, seminars and catechism canceled. From the Vicar of Arabia, guidelines and invitation to the faithful to pray.

Sharjah (AsiaNews) - To reduce the opportunities for contact and prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the emirate of Sharjah has ordered the suspension of all the functions of the local churches starting today, indefinitely.

In a note sent by the local government to all parishes and places of worship, signed by the director of the Authority for Islamic Affairs Abdulla Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, the faithful are asked to "scrupulously follow" the provisions of the authorities in the struggle at Covid-19.

In recent days, even the leaders of Kuwait have asked Christian churches and centers to remain closed until March 14, while cases of contagion in the region continue to grow. In response to the instructions of the authorities, Catholic leaders suspended all masses and functions related to the period of Lent.

Therefore, masses, spiritual retreats, prayer meetings, seminars and any other initiative aimed at community gathering have been cancelled. The catechism classes are also suspended, pending further developments. The apostolic vicariate of northern Arabia (which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar) has announced the resumption of the celebrations for March 15, but there is still no certainty about it.

In the meantime, appeals to the faithful and the community are multiplying for correct personal hygiene and the use of measures to contain the infections, accompanied by a renewed invitation to prayer. In an appeal sent to AsiaNews, the vicar of southern Arabia Mgr. Paul Hinder asks people "to take the necessary precautions to limit the risks" in a "unique" situation with the faithful "who come and go from the country for work or personal reasons".

In force until April 2, the guidelines from the vicariate ask sick people to stay at home, to strengthen personal hygiene and to pay particular attention to cleaning the premises. Added to this is the emptying of holy water fonts, not taking communion by mouth and not exchanging hands as a sign of peace, catechism classes are also suspended.

The organization of pilgrimages, meetings and visits are subject to the approval of the bishop. As already done by the Chaldean Patriarch Card Louis Raphael Sako, the vicar of Arabia invites people to pray for the end of the epidemic, for peace and the protection of the Lord.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has extended the blockade on flights to all EU countries and 12 other countries; during the night there were 24 new cases, for a total of 45. In Qatar 262 people were infected, 195 in Bahrain and 109 in Israel. In the Middle East, the worst situation continues to be that of Iran, where the toll talks about 9 thousand confirmed cases, 354 dead and 2959 recovered.

(Nirmala Carvalho collaborated)

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