OFFICIAL - 26th December, 2021
26th December, 2021
The Parish Priests /Priests-in-charge in the Archdiocese of Bombay
My dear Fathers,
Once again, I wish each one of you a joy- filled and grace filled Christmas season. As the government has issued new regulations effective from Christmas morning, I feel the necessity of connecting with you once again with advice about the application of these norms in our Institutions: parishes and schools.
Three restrictions in the latest Order dated 24th December 2021 concern us.
1. For religious functions the Order, Article c, stipulates that the total number of attendees “should not exceed 100 for enclosed spaces and 250 for open to sky spaces or 25% of the capacity of such spaces whichever is less.”
This would apply for our Masses, Hence in our Churches we have to restrict the congregation to 100. This is a small number especially for our Sunday masses in bigger parishes. Each Parish team could decide how they would adhere to these norms in the parish while at the same time giving pastoral care to our people. One possibility is the celebration of additional Masses. I am aware that some parishes have asked for pre - registration to attend Masses. Please examine your own local circumstances and take a decision. For New Year, if you're celebrating the Eucharist in the open (and if your ground has the capacity for over 1000) you can admit 250 for the Mass.
2. ‘Article h’ of the Order puts a ban on any assembly of more than five persons from 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM throughout Maharashtra. Please keep this in mind when scheduling Masses. I suggest you do not schedule a Mass before 6:30 AM so that people can come in time for Mass safely. Similarly, your last evening Mass should begin at 7:00 PM or at the latest 7:30 PM, so people can return home in time before the restrictions come into force.
3. In case any school/parish has scheduled a sports event. I point out to you that ‘Article e’ of the Order states that these events may be held with the number of spectators not exceeding 25% of the seating capacity of the venue.
It is not stated when these restrictions will be reviewed. But early in the New Year I will meet with the Deans to examine the ground reality in our parishes and to give further clarifications if necessary.
I wish you all God’s blessings and Compliments of the Season once again.
+ Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay