03/24/2020, 18.04
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Dioceses offer Masses online and special prayers for the sick and doctors

by Shafique Khokhar

Bishops and clergymen organise their services on Facebook and YouTube. Capuchin monk notes that only churches are closed; families are united in prayer. Panaflex boards are placed at the doors of Karachi churches. Bangladeshi authorities postpone school exams.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - In Pakistan and Bangladesh, like in many other countries, local dioceses have turned to the Internet to broadcast their Masses after the authorities imposed restrictions on public gatherings.

The aim is to accompany the faithful in spirit and not abandon them at this time of difficulty with the coronavirus spreading more and more.

In South Asia, Pakistan has with the highest number of infections, 903 as of today, with six deaths so far.

The Catholic Church has again urged to faithful to respect the rules, whilst in Sind, the provincial government called on the military to deploy troops to help doctors and patients and patrol the streets.

In Lahore, Fr Shahzad Khokhar posted Sunday’s Mass on the Capuchins’ own YouTube channel, Capuchin interfaith dialogue Pakistan. "The doors of God are always open,” he said. “Let's repent, hope and pray”.

The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation launched a prevention programme in various parts of the city.

In Karachi Card Joseph Coutts had bilingual (Urdu-English) panaflex boards prepared, with information on prevention and restrictions to follow, placed at the doors of all the churches of the archdiocese.

Ashir Liaquat, a priest at St Patrick's Cathedral, celebrated Mass that was carried on social media.

During the service, he invited the faithful to pray for the victims of COVID-19, for the doctors and health workers who "are aware of the deadly risk, but are ready to help and sacrifice", and for the scientists who are developing the vaccine. He noted that "Only churches are closed; homes and families are united in prayer.”

In Bangladesh, the outbreak is still contained, with 33 positive cases and three deaths. All of the country’s dioceses have called on the faithful not to attend Mass.

Archbishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi posted an appeal on Facebook. “Protect yourself from the coronavirus, do not come to Mass, do alternative prayer services. Stay home, wash your hands and keep your distance.”

Archbishop Moses M Costa of Chattogram has organised two Masses a day, at 3.30 pm and 6 pm, carried on the Archdiocese’s webpage.

In Dhaka, 200 worshippers attended the Sunday service at the Tejgaon parish church, the oldest and largest in the country. Kiron Corraya was present. “Usually we are at least 1,500. I am praying intensely to Almighty God to save the world from the coronavirus.”

Meanwhile, the government has decided to postpone school exams set to start on 1 April, whilst the National Association of Shop Owners (Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity) had all the stores closed from 25 to 31 March. Only markets, pharmacies and food stores remain open.

(Sumon Corraya contributed to this article)

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