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Public Masses canceled in Hong Kong as fears over coronavirus swell

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Public Masses canceled in Hong Kong as fears over coronavirus swell

ROME – Responding to a government appeal for citizens to stay home in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the administrator of the Hong Kong diocese has suspended public Masses until the end of the month, including the Ash Wednesday service marking the beginning of the Lenten season.

In a Feb. 13 statement posted to the Diocese of Hong Kong’s website, Cardinal John Tong noted that government warnings have labeled the next two weeks as “crucial” for combatting the outbreak.

“The Church, being a member of society, has the duty to maintain public hygiene and promote the common good,” Tong said, announcing that all churches, chapels and Catholic centers are to suspend Sunday and weekday Masses Feb. 15-28, with follow-up measures to be announced.

This includes the Feb. 26 observance of Ash Wednesday, which begins a 40-day period marking the Catholic Church’s Lenten season, dedicated to penance, prayer and fasting.

Now officially called COVID-19, the coronavirus first broke out in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. So far it has claimed over 1,300 lives and some 60,000 cases have been confirmed, mostly in China.

Hong Kong, which shares open borders with China, has 50 reported cases and one death, however, pleas for extra caution have arisen in recent days amid fears that the outbreak has worsened, contrary to what experts predicted.

All crowded religious activities apart from weddings and funerals will also be suspended, but parish churches and affiliated chapels will remain open to allow faithful to pray. Parishes are […]

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