WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland should increase the number of Catholic Masses on Sundays so not too many churchgoers gather at once, in line with the government’s coronavirus restrictions, the head of the Polish bishop’s conference said on Tuesday.
Poland, where a third of the population attend Mass, decided to cancel big gatherings and candidates for a May election have reduced campaigning due to the coronavirus.
“Just as hospitals treat illnesses of the body, the church is there to heal illnesses of the soul. That’s why it’s unimaginable that we should not pray in our churches,” Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki said in a statement.
“With regards to the demands of the Chief Sanitation Inspector for there not to be mass gatherings of people, we ask for the enlargement - if possible - of the number of Sunday Masses in churches, so the appropriate number of churchgoers can participate in a Mass at a given moment.”
In Europe’s worst-affected country Italy, bishops have taken the unprecedented step of ordering that Masses not be held during the week in churches in northern areas.
In Poland, the elderly and sick can stay at home and follow Sunday Mass via television and radio, Gadecki added.
Poland has confirmed 20 coronavirus cases so far.
Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne