People go to Nghĩa Yên Church on Saturday night. — Photo vov.cn
HÀ TĨNH — Several parishes in Hà Tĩnh Province held public masses last weekend despite the Government’s ban on large gatherings and travel restrictions to contain COVID-19.
The parishes of Nghĩa Yên and Thọ Ninh in Đức Thọ District, Thượng Bình and Làng Truông in Hương Khê District, Tràng Đinh in Can Lộc District and Kẻ Đông in Thạch Hà District held services on Saturday night and Sunday morning attended by hundreds of worshippers.
The action triggered social uproar.
“I don’t think it is proper to hold a mass at this time. The more people who gather together, the more easily the disease will spread,” Trần Thị Hồng Vinh in Can Lộc District told Vietnam Television.
Paul Nguyễn Thái Hợp, the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hà Tĩnh, said they had been discussing solutions that would allow people to pray without large gatherings
“Many believers did not fully understand the current situation so they were still going to church as usual,” he said.
Hà Tĩnh People’s Committee said on Monday the gatherings severely violated regulations set by the Government in response to COVID-19.
Local authorities have asked the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hà Tĩnh to suspend all public masses and religious services, raise public awareness of the disease and collaborate with law enforcement forces to deal with violators.
Authorities in Đức Thọ, Can Lộc, Hương Khê and Thạch Hà districts have been asked to investigate individuals involved in organising these masses and file reports to the provincial People’s Committee by April 9.
On March 25, Archbishop Joseph Nguyễn Năng of HCM City called for all local churches and chapels to temporarily suspend masses and all other religious activities starting at 4pm on March 26 until further notice.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on March 26 also ordered the suspension of religious ceremonies.
On March 7, Pope Francis announced he would give his catechesis from the Library of the Apostolic Palace and live-stream it to the world instead of reciting the Sunday Angelus in St Peter’s Square. — VNS