Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) has put in place guidelines to be used for liturgical services during the Great Week, also known as the Paschal Week, in precaution against the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The decision comes as the fast-spreading disease has reached over 180 countries, with cases topping 600,000 and deaths reaching over 27,500.
TEC’s guidelines are in line with those issued by various episcopal conferences around the world and overseen by the respective congregation at the Vatican.
The guidelines touch on key days of the Passion week starting from Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil Mass, Easter and Easter Monday.
TEC Secretary General Charles Kitima told The Citizen yesterday that Easter cannot be shifted to another day, even in those countries badly hit by Covid-19.
“The laws of the land and health guidelines issued locally will be observed,” said Dr Kitima.
A TEC communication seen by The Citizen elaborates that on Holy Thursday, the segment of washing legs would not be observed, and after the Holy Mass there would be no procession of the Holy Eucharist, whereas the Host would be kept in the tabernacle. Priests would also be granted special permission to celebrate Mass in the absence of the believers.
“On Good Friday, during the general prayers, the bishops will give special intention for those in suffering, the sick and the dead. The act of kissing the cross will only be done by the main concelebrant”, the communication reads in part.
As for the Paschal Vigil Mass, this will be said in cathedrals and parish churches only.
Instead of the sacrament of baptism, the faithful shall repeat the vows made during their baptism.
“Emphasis is on ensuring that liturgical services do not turn into vehicles of spreading the killer virus,” said Fr Kitima.
Around the world, bishops have told the faithful they are not obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Bishops have urged the faithful to participate via television and the internet.
A huge change in modern times following the pandemic.