March 13, 2020 / 4:27 AM / 21 days ago

Hong Kong church streams mass online to prevent coronavirus spread

HONG KONG (Reuters) - With an iPad on a small tripod, Father Thomas Law of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in downtown Hong Kong is broadcasting mass to worshippers to their homes via online streaming as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The church was formerly packed during daily morning mass and on Sundays, but the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong has suspended mass and liturgies since Feb. 15 in line with government health guidelines promoting social distancing.

“It was a painful decision,” Law said.

“However, it was a faithful decision as we believe in God. God has given us the power to make sacrifices that make it a loving decision.”

    Churchgoer Stephen Wong and daughter Amanda said they missed the community spirit but were thankful for the arrangement.

“In this situation I think it is still the best substitute because we cannot physically go to mass,” Wong, a career coach who has been working from home for weeks, said in his flat after attending the online mass.

Many churches in Hong Kong have taken their services online due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Chinese-ruled city, which has reported 130 cases and three deaths.

Similar arrangements have been made in Singapore and elsewhere at various churches, temples and mosques.

Pope Francis, holed up in the Vatican by Italy’s coronavirus epidemic, held his first virtual general audience on Wednesday.

    In Hong Kong, some funerals and weddings that have been booked before the outbreak are going ahead.

At a recent wedding at Law’s church, guests, donning face masks, had their temperatures checked and used sanitiser to clean their hands before entering the chapel. Nuns and volunteers were seen cleaning the pews after the ceremony.

Reporting by Joyce Zhou; Editing by Marius Zaharia and Christian Schmollinger

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