, 17 July, 2020 / 10:00 PM
The leadership of South Sudan’s only Metropolitan See, Juba, has announced measures to guide public liturgical celebrations in anticipation of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions by the Government.
The measures are meant to minimize the risk of COVID-19 contagion in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, which is the epicenter of the disease in the nine-year-old country. So far, the disease has infected at least 2,171 people; there have been 41 reported fatalities due to the coronavirus.
In the Friday, July 17 guidelines, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu gives directives to those at the helm of Parishes and “congregation leaders.”
“Parish Priests and the congregation leaders should take the necessary steps to limit possible sizes of congregants and consider scheduling of services far apart to allow enough time for the after-service cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces between all Masses,” Archbishop Ameyu directs.
Leaders in Parishes must provide “handwashing facilities for all members before and after Holy Masses,” the Archbishop adds.
He also directs the leadership in all Parishes in the Archdiocese to ensure the is “an emergency room or area for any temporary isolation in cases of illness or instant development.”
The 56-year-old South Sudanese Archbishop directs the duration of Sunday Mass saying, “the Eucharistic celebrations will be limited to one and a half hours during which the faithful with exception of children aged two years and below are required to wear masks.”
“The presiding celebrants and readers may now and then, while ministering, remove masks for clarity of invocations, prayers and readings,” Archbishop Ameyu who is also the Apostolic Administrator of South Sudan’s Torit Diocese says.
In cases of concelebration, “all concelebrant Priests should not drink from the same chalice/cup,” he further directs, adding that in the case of the administration of the Sacrament of Baptism, Priests or Ministers “wear gloves and use cotton for anointing.”
He then reaches out to the faithful who will turn up for public worship to “adopt and implement public health and social distancing measures that might help prevent transmission of the coronavirus.”
“Sitting or standing of the congregation during the Holy Mass services be at least 1.5 meters or 6 feet apart,” he says making reference to the health protocols that Governments across the globe have adapted from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Priests, acolytes, catechists and all community leaders should help the gathering congregations to comply with all protocols," the 56-year-old South Sudanese Prelate directs.
He adds, “These guidelines will be implemented by all pastors of our Churches, the rapid response groups in the parishes, chapels and prayer centers, community superiors and heads of institutions.”
In a bid to protect vulnerable persons, especially children, the Archbishop Ameyu directs Church officials to “encourage parents and guidance to keep them at close proximity all the time for any intervention by assigned Church Officials.”
“Always advise and announce before every service that anybody with exposure to a person with COVID-19 should stay (at) home and self-monitor for symptoms as directed by WHO and the government protocols,” he says, addressing himself to Church officials in charge of announcements at Holy Mass.
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