20 February 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Tokyo:




The spread of the nCoV has been widely reported, but the path to its end is yet unknown.

I would like to reiterate that we must avoid the spread of suspicious information about this new infectious disease which causes people unnecessary anxiety. At the same time, along with our taking very careful precautions about influenza during this time of the year in Japan, it is also important for the church, being a part of the society, to view the situation from the perspective of social responsibility.

The Catholic Church in Hong Kong and Singapore have already announced the suspension of public masses. For the Archdiocese of Tokyo, we are also seriously investigating on the appropriate response to the situation, which may include preventive measures for infection as well as the possibility of suspending public masses in the parishes, while seeking the advice of our fellow Catholics in the field of medicine.

First of all, I call on everyone to comply with the advisory released on 31st January. I would like to especially emphasize that in order to prevent infections through contact with the font or vessel which contains holy water, it is advised for the time being to keep empty the fonts or vessels at church entrances. However, for those in need of holy water for personal use, kindly consult with your pastor.

In addition to the items listed on the advisory of 31st January, please take note of the following information.

1: For the time being, kindly refrain from bringing the bread and wine/water in offertory procession during the mass. Prepare the hosts and wine before the mass, and place them near the altar.

2: In order to avoid close physical contact, refrain from shaking hands and hugging during the greetings of peace at mass.

3: In order to prevent infection through contact with the doorknob, especially for entrances not having automatic doors, it is recommended to keep the door open from an appropriate time before the mass until the time the mass starts, and keep the door open once again after the mass ends until an appropriate time when the congregation had departed.

Let us pray to God our Father, the Giver of life, for the situation to be contained as soon as possible, for those placed in such difficult situation, and for the many people who care for them and are working for the resolution of this problem. I encourage everyone to take care of each other, brothers and sisters in and out of the Church, keeping healthy in mind and body, and acting wisely at all times.

Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD
Archbishop of Tokyo

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