RE: SUSPENSION OF PUBLIC MASSES IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF TOKYO

Dear brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Tokyo:

RE: SUSPENSION OF PUBLIC MASSES IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF TOKYO

In connection with the continued nationwide efforts to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 infections, Metropolitan Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture which belong to the Tokyo Archdiocese have been placed under a state of emergency until the 31st of August.

Despite the emergency declarations in the past, through the sincere cooperation of everyone in the precautionary measures and the progressing vaccination program especially among the elderly, the Archdiocese has made it possible to continue implementing the Stage 3 precautionary measures in order to allow participation as much as possible in the sacraments, and to celebrate together public masses, while giving authority to the parish priest to decide according to the local circumstances.

However, in the past few days, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has remained high. Moreover, the number of seriously ill persons in Tokyo has already exceeded 200. Thus, the government has further called upon everyone to refrain from going out and to limit the flow of people. In addition, it was reported that “the government’s Subcommittee on Novel Coronavirus Disease Control announced on the 12th (of August) that it would request intensive strengthening of measures for a limited period of two weeks until the 26th due to the explosive spread of infection.”

Although we have not received any reports of clusters originating from the church in the Archdiocese of Tokyo, we have been receiving more reports recently compared to before of persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the Holy Mass or participating in other church activities.

Therefore, from August 16 (Monday), the Archdiocese of Tokyo will shift to Stage 4 precautionary measures and suspend public masses in the parishes.

Since the situation has been substantially changing, the period will be set to four (4) weeks from August 16 (Monday) to September 12 (Sunday), and the decision on whether to continue with this response will be announced on or before September 5 (Sunday). Regarding the Stage 4 precautionary measures considering the current situation, please take note of the attached reference.

Similar to last year, during the period that the public masses will be suspended, the Archbishop’s Sunday masses at 10:00 am will be live streamed using the Youtube account of Sekiguchi Church. In addition, the weekly message will continue to be delivered during this period via internet every Saturday at 18:00 under the title of “Weekly Archbishop.”

During these times of difficulties, let us put our trust in our Lord Jesus who promised us, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” and let us reaffirm our spiritual bond in the one body centered on the Lord. Let us continue to pray to our merciful Father that He may bring us out of this darkness as soon as possible. My heartfelt gratitude to you all, brothers and sisters, for your understanding and cooperation.

Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, SVD
Archbishop of Tokyo

<REFERENCE>

STAGE 4 PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES AS OF AUGUST 16, 2021

1: Public masses will be suspended. However, priests will continue to offer masses personally.

Masses in places such as in monasteries may continue to be offered if participation of people from outside are prohibited.

 2: All the faithful of the Tokyo Archdiocese are dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday masses.

 3: With the exception of essential meetings concerning parish management to the minimum, all activities in the parish should be either postponed to a later date or held online. Should there be a need to get together, please limit the number of participants to about 20 people, provide proper ventilation, and limit the length of time to about an hour.

 4: For funerals and for weddings that have already been scheduled, please carefully implement sufficient infection control measures. It is also possible that, after discussing with the bereaved family, they may proceed with cremation first and have the funeral mass at a later date.

 5: In administering the sacraments during an emergency situation, please proceed while complying with the Stage 3 precautionary measures.