The Most Reverend John Bonaventure Kwofie, the Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, on Sunday cautioned catholic churches in the Accra Archdiocese not to commence activities without the requisite logistics for protecting members from COVID-19.
“I wish to emphasize from the outset that even though churches are permitted to congregate with not more than 100 people from Sunday, June 7, parishes in the Archdiocese are obliged only when the requisite logistics that guarantee safe opening and operation have been put in place.”
The Archbishop gave the caution in a communique titled: “Resumption of Public Workshop in the Archdiocese of Accra” to all Priests, Religious and Lay Faithful of the Archdiocese of Accra.
All Parish Priests have been directed to work together with Parish Councils to ensure that their churches were fumigated before any church is opened for public use and disinfect the churches after each use.
They are also to immediately establish a COVlD-19 Team, comprising medical experts and persons with some technical knowledge to guide, advise and accompany parishioners throughout the pandemic period and ensure that members adhered to the safety measures.
In addition to implementing Presidential Directives on health and safety protocols the Most. Rev. Kwofie also directed that parishioners who assist in counting offertories take the necessary precautions including wearing of gloves, face masks, and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
He also advised that designated entrances and exits of churches be marked where feasible, social distancing measures at times for offertory collection, communion, and other activities that may involve physical contact be observed and that pews be marked in seating arrangements.
“Baptisms, marriages, burial Masses, and other Church gatherings must be performed following current public health norms regarding social distancing and hygiene.
“For Sunday Masses, there will be the one-hour duration between on Mass and the other to allow the disinfection of pews and chairs before the next Mass.
“Each Mass is to last not more than an hour. Sunday School/Children Services are suspended during this period,” he noted.
The Archbishop instructed that in the case of concelebration, the main celebrant uses the principal chalice and that chalices be provided for concelebrating priests who would communicate by intinction.
There shall be a maximum of five choristers and two altar servers, if need be at Mass, he noted, adding that face masks must be used by all in the church at all times. Also, Priests shall wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before going to distribute Holy Communion, and communion for the faithful shall be received only in the hand.
According to the directive, liturgical robes for choristers, lectors, ushers and altar servers are not to be used during this time, and microphones should be disinfected after each use.
Most Rev. Kwofie said: “For pastoral reasons, I grant permission for Priests to offer anticipatory Masses on Saturday evenings where needed.
Also, each Priest has my permission to celebrate two Masses on Weekdays and three Masses on Sundays (cf. Canon 905).
“Masses can be celebrated concurrently in the church, at the grotto, or in the parish hall at any given time. I entreat Pastors to ensure that places outside the church where the Eucharist will be celebrated have the proper decorum and reverence.
“I encourage parishes to continue with the online streaming of Holy Masses and Catechesis for the homebound and those who, for some other reasons, are unable to congregate physically.
“In addition, the telecasting of Holy Masses will continue,” he added.
He encouraged all Catholics to earnestly pray for the COVID-19 pandemic to end so that the Church could return to its regular liturgical life.