Everyone in Sapporo Diocese
Bishop of Diocese of Sapporo
In spite of the progress made in vaccinations, the outbreak of the corona mutation has not been halted, and clusters of the disease have emerged in various parts of Hokkaido. At the request of the governor of Hokkaido, a meeting of the government task force was held on January 25, and as a result, Hokkaido has been placed under the priority measures policy from January 27 to February 20 to prevent the spread of the disease.
At this time, there have been no reports of clusters within the Church, but individual cases have begun to appear, especially in Catholic educational institutions, and reports of clusters have continued.
The Sapporo Diocesan Priests’ Advisory Council has advised me that the situation is even more severe, falling under Stage 4 of the Bishops’ Conference guidelines, 「Refrain from public Masses in parishes」. In light of this I have decided to suspend public Masses and meetings at parishes in the Diocese of Sapporo until the declaration is completed. If the proclamation is postponed, we ask that it be continued for that period of time. (For now, this will cover the Lord’s Day from January 30 to February 2 0.)
However, in light of regional differences and parish conditions, public Masses may be offered at the discretion of the pastor if the following measures are taken:
(1) A greater social distance (2 meters or more) than in the past.
(2) No conversation before or after Mass (including outside the Cathedral).
I ask for your understanding and continued patience until the day the declaration is lifted.
In addition, if you are going to enter or leave the church due to an emergency if you return please repeat the infection control measures.
(1) Disinfect hands, (2) Wear masks, (3) Social distancing, (4) Take your temperature, (5) Avoid prolonged conversations, (6) Disinfect the place of use, (7)
Avoid using common items such as pamphlets that another has used.
For everyone’s good health I ask for your cooperation in this matter.
For funerals, weddings, etc., please take appropriate measures to prevent infections.
I encourage you to pray and receive spiritual communion in your homes on the Lord’s Day.
For those who live alone, please keep in touch with friends and stay connected.
Please know that I, along with the priests of the diocese, in a special way offer our prayers asking God’s Mercy and strength for all our brothers and sisters of the diocese, and for all living here in Hokkaido.