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Circular regarding cancellation of self-restraint Masses, meetings, etc. in Sapporo Diocese due to the Cancellation of state of emergency in Hokkaido (No.7)

勝谷太治(かつやたいじ)  

2021年6月22日

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To the Clergy, Religious, and Laity of the Catholic Church in Sapporo Diocese

We would like to express our grat­i­tude to everyone who has been living a life of faith with patience, sup­pressing the spread of corona infec­tion in accor­dance with the dec­la­ra­tion of a state of emer­gency.

According to the gov­ern­ment’s announce­ment, the state of emer­gency will be lifted on June 20, but the gov­ernor of Hokkaido will con­tinue to take mea­sures to pre­vent the spread of corona infec­tion. In response to this, the Sapporo Diocese announces that it is cur­rently in Phase 4 according to the "Guidelines for the Catholic Church in Japan for dealing with infec­tious Diseases” from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan.

Phase 4 : When an infectious disease continues in Japan Steps to take when a state of emergency and a request to refrain from business and movement have been lifted, but the infectious disease is still widespread. "Guidelines for the Catholic Church in Japan for dealing with infectious Diseases” from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan. https://www.cbcj.catholic.jp/2020/1...

There are two major dif­fer­ences between Phase 4 and Phase 2 (Phase 3 is during an infec­tion explo­sion.)

  • Request that the elderly or those who have underlying medical conditions refrain from attending Mass.
  • Dispense all Catholics from the obligation to attend Mass.

(The guide­lines con­cerning “Mass at Phase 4” will be at the end of this article.)

Based on this, we would like to inform you as fol­lows.

Although the sit­u­a­tion is still unpre­dictable, there are regional dif­fer­ences within Hokkaido, and it is not pos­sible to make a uni­form can­cel­la­tion deci­sion. We still have to deal with pan­demic-related ten­sion, par­tic­u­larly in urban areas. In response to this deci­sion, we would like to inform you as fol­lows.

Urban areas: Different mea­sures are required in the city and the sub­urbs.

  • Regarding Mass, I would like you to discern ways to gradually retur to distributed Mass under the guidance of the Pastor, as long as you can manage sufficiently.
  • Please refrain from having meetings for a while, or keep the number meetings to a minimum, while being as brief as possible.

Other than urban areas: Considering the actual sit­u­a­tion of each parish, we would like Pastors to take suf­fi­cient mea­sures and respond to Masses and meet­ings as before.

*Notices Having received reports on the situation of each parish, it seems that the infection control measures during the Mass are generally thorough in each parish. But it seems that the lack of social distance when entering and exiting the chapel before and after the Mass, needs to be improved.

Please check the cir­cular doc­u­ments con­cerning corona from the Sapporo Diocese that have been issued so far. We ask for your coop­er­a­tion to live faith­fully in a safe envi­ron­ment, with com­mu­nity sup­port, and help church man­age­ment create a safe envi­ron­ment.

If you have any infor­ma­tion related to corona infec­tion in each dis­trict or parish, please inform the Diocese Secretariat.

I pray that God’s abundant grace is upon you.

"Guidelines for the Catholic Church in Japan for dealing with infec­tious Diseases” from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan.
https://www.cbcj.catholic.jp/2020/1...

④When an infectious disease continues in Japan

Steps to take when a state of emer­gency and a request to refrain from busi­ness and move­ment have been lifted, but the infec­tious dis­ease is still widespread.
○Public Masses may be cel­e­brated after taking the fol­lowing mea­sures against infec­tious dis­eases. For details, refer to Attachment 1: Guidelines for sacra­ments and litur­gical prac­tices during infec­tious dis­ease epi­demics.

  • Limit the number of people to maintain sufficient social distancing.
  • Request that the elderly or those who have underlying medical conditions refrain from attending Mass.
  • Dispense all Catholics from the obligation to attend Mass.
  • Wearing of masks in the church by priests and congregations.
  • Before entering the church, all attendees will have their temperature taken and will record their name, contact information, and the date.
  • Provide alcohol hand disinfectant at the church entrance.
  • No use of shared songbooks or prayer cards. They should be removed from the church.
  • Worship aids should be taken home and not left behind. Extras should be discarded.
  • No using the holy water font.
  • Provide sufficient ventilation during Mass.
  • No congregational singing. Provided sufficient social distancing is observed, refrains
  • and other songs may be sung by a small choir.
  • Short homilies.
  • No offertory processions.
  • No collections during Mass.
  • No physical contact (handshakes, hugs, kisses, etc.) during the Sign of Peace.
  • Before Communion, both priests and congregation disinfect their hands again.
  • Request that people refrain from receiving the Eucharist on the tongue.

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