Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong has suspended all church programs, including Sunday Masses and Ash Wednesday liturgy from the 15th to the 28th of February.
Cardinal Tong said the “disappointing” decision was made “because the next two weeks will be a crucial time to suppress the epidemic.”
“Some church members may be disappointed. This is not an easy decision. At this difficult time Catholics must deepen our trust in God and implement our Christian love for our neighbors and all people.”
Cardinal Tong in turn issued a dispensation from the Mass obligation for the Faithful in Hong Kong.
“In addition to fulfilling our Mass obligation by participating in the Mass online, receiving Holy Communion spiritually, meditating on the Scriptures, or saying the Rosary, at home we can care more for the health of our family, especially the elderly and the children. In the community, we can help one another, share anti-epidemic materials, live the Gospel virtues of faith, hope and love, and pray for each other.”
The decision by the Diocese comes amid the coronavirus epidemic outpacing the predictions of experts. As of the 13th of February, there have been more than 60,000 cases reported worldwide and nearly 1,500 deaths. Thousands have crossed over from mainland China into Hong Kong, and the densely-populated city is on high alert, with 53 confirmed cases and 1 death.