The Catholic Archdiocese of Accra has outlined new instructions for worship urging congregants to be guided by the principle “a healthy mind lives in a healthy environment”.
The archdiocese commended all whose efforts and advice had contributed to the achievement of the COVID-19 protocol observance since it involved life and faith and announced that Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie was responding well to treatment.
Reminding the various congregations on the need to maintain the COVID-19 prevention strategies, the Chief Shepherd, Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie outlined new guidelines following the 14th state of address to the nation by the President, Nana Addo Danqua Akufo-Addo.
A statement signed by Rev. Fr. John Kobina Louis, the Vicar General Accra Archdiocese said the implementation and monitoring of the new information and instructions must be under the watchful care of the priests, various Pastoral Councils, and COVID-19 Teams while the Deans provide general oversights in their respective Deaneries.
The statement indicated that the restrictions on the minimum number of 100 people per Holy Mass had been lifted. However, religious functions must observe the social distancing rule of at least one meter and ensure the standard hygienic practices are still in force.
“The duration of a holy mass or any liturgical celebration must not exceed two hours and there should be fresh air ventilation throughout the celebration”, the statement noted.
Through further consultations, it was revealed that priests were to avoid the imposition of hands by touching adding that anointings may be carried out using fresh cotton wool.
“The wearing of face shield alone (without the face mask) does not give the usher the needed protection against the COVID-19. Thus the face shield should not be used as a replacement for the face mask in protecting one against the COVID-19” the statement said.
Also without the aid of electronic devices, Priests would be allowed to hear confessions under the conditions that they and the penitent wear face masks and both must respect the social distancing of two meters apart and the sacredness of the sacrament is never to be compromised.
The statement indicated that all those ministering at mass must observe the social distancing when sitting, standing, or moving around in the sanctuary.
It further indicated that entrance processions would be reduced to celebrants and a limited number of knights or ladies of the altar.
“The above recommendations can be applied to the Renewal of Vows, Professor: of Final Vows, Jubilee: Amongst others”, the statement disclosed.
Chief Shepherd, Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie added that religious activities that required large numbers for gatherings such as rosary procession, or crusades, as well as catechism classes, children service and other religious gatherings that involved children, were still on hold until further notice.
Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie noted that funeral masses or services must be restricted to a maximum of 100 people.
However, priest and religious meetings, marriage counseling sessions and societal meetings or devotions which involved adults have been resumed, he said.
The Chief Shepherd announced that Church choirs and other liturgical ministers are requested to observe the social distancing and not use or vest in the liturgical garments until further notice.
He mentioned that the registration of congregants before Mass remained an essential practice therefore leaders were to educate their congregants to support and sustain it.
In the statement, Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie said “we remind all pastors of souls that the introduction of anticipatory Masses remains an option to curb the congestion of the Sunday mass schedules”.
He encouraged churches to develop and maintain prudent COVID-19 Mass schedules that promote and permit the full observance of the protocols.
“We encourage pastors of souls and all caregivers in the church to continue to pastorally care for the sick, the elderly, those currently experiencing psychological and financial crisis as a result of COVID-19 and those who cannot attend Mass, but prudently be careful to protect both themselves and their wards”, the Chief Shepherd stressed.
Source: Vicar General, Accra Archdiocese