The statement came under the Bible verse: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2: 10 – 11).
It went on to inform that the restrictions apply starting 26 December 2020 until 30 January 2021, and are to be implemented in Cairo and Alexandria, which fall under the jurisdiction Pope Tawadros II. In case of Egypt’s other parishes, the statement said, diocesan bishops should decide jointly with the clergy assembly in the respective dioceses on the measures they see as appropriate to stem the spread of COVID-19, depending on local health conditions.
Already, most diocesan bishops have issued decisions to curtail services to varying degrees.
The Church statement said that Masses for Christmas [7 January] and Epiphany [19 January] are to be celebrated in churches by the respective priests and no more than 20 persons.
Apart from Christmas and Epiphany, Masses may be celebrated in any given church only once a week without a congregation and with participation of only five deacons.
Sunday School service, the statement said, is to be suspended, as should all meetings, activities, and community services.
Services of holy matrimony are to be conducted by one priest and one deacon, and attended by no more than 20 family members.
Funeral services are to be conducted by one priest and one deacon, preferably at cemetery churches, with attendance restricted to the family of the deceased. Third-Day prayer services for deceased persons are to be suspended, and condolence halls closed.
Baptismal and anointment rituals may be performed by only one priest, with attendance of no more than four members of the family of the baby to be baptised. Payer services for newborns are to be suspended until better conditions.
Clerical institutes and educational centres are to be suspended.
Spiritual care may be offered to church members only through telephone calls, not home visits.
Priests, deacons, and all members of the congregation should strictly adhere to cautionary measures against coronavirus spread.
The statement concluded: “We pray that God would protect Egypt and the whole world from all harm, and ask the Lord to save mankind from disease and pandemic. We sing with the angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill towards men, (Luke 2: 14)”.
27 December 2020