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Bishops in Kenya Encourage Broadcast, Livestreaming of Holy Week’s Liturgical Celebrations

Logo of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB)

Amid restrictions placed on the number of congregants during public worship in Kenya, Catholic Bishops in the East African nation have encouraged the broadcast of the Holy Week’s liturgical celebrations on various media, including livestreaming. 

In their Tuesday, March 16 statement, the members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) say the use of social media “greatly aided Pastors in offering support and closeness to their communities during the pandemic.”

“For the celebration of Holy Week, we propose that media coverage of the celebrations presided over by the Bishop be facilitated and favoured,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say in their statement signed by KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Philip Anyolo.

Encouraging the faithful who are unable to be part of public worship to follow the liturgical celebrations through the media is “a sign of unity,” they say.

The permitted maximum number of congregants at religious gatherings has been reduced to one-third of the capacity of a place of worship in Kenya.

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In their March 16 statement, KCCB members also direct that celebration of Chrism Mass be attended by “representatives of the Clergy” if the space does not permit large gatherings. 

They add that Holy Mass may also be celebrated in “an open area with a minimum attendance of the faithful.”

The Catholic Church leaders also direct that the washing of feet, marked on Holy Thursday, “be omitted.”

They add that “at the end of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the procession will be omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the Tabernacle.”

On this day, the Bishops add, “The faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the presence of the people, can be exceptionally granted to all Priests.”

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For Good Friday, KCCB members say that the adoration of the Cross by kissing be limited solely to the celebrant. 

This year’s celebration of Good Friday will not be marked by the usual public Way of the Cross processions that involve many faithful, they add.

For Palm Sunday, the members of KCCB direct that the commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem be celebrated within the Cathedral and Church parishes. 

They also direct that the “seconds and third form given in the Roman Missal” be used during the celebration of the Holy Mass on Palm Sunday. 

The Roman Missal provides the Procession, the Solemn Entrance and the Simple Entrance as different forms for the beginning of Palm Sunday’s Holy Mass. 

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The second and third forms, Solemn Entrance and the Simple Entrance, do not entail long processions getting into the Eucharistic celebration.  

In their March 16 message, Catholic Bishops in Kenya also discourage the organization of “official Church activity” within the country’s curfew hours. 

In a bid to control the spread of COVID-19, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, on March 12, extended the 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew that was first imposed in March 2020 for 60 days.

Kenya has recorded 116,310 cases of COVID-19 including 1,937 deaths and 89,061 recoveries.  

In their 3-page statement, KCCB members also discourage the celebration of Easter Vigil Mass.

However, they say, in cases where a Local Ordinary permits the Easter Vigil Mass at night, the liturgy “should end by 8.00 p.m.” 

“It is not wise to unnecessarily expose ourselves and our parishioners to harassment and complaints from Civil authority,” the Bishops say in reference to the nationwide curfew.

They acknowledge that the guidelines for public worship amid the pandemic have not always been easy for the people of God in the country and add that the measures have always been taken “with a view to ensuring that the sacred mysteries be celebrated in the most effective way possible for our communities, while respecting the common good and public health.” 

“We will return to our normal Liturgy very soon,” KCCB members say in their March 16 statement.