Millions Of Christians In Lockdown Ahead Of Easter
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Millions of Christians spent Good Friday in the most extensive global lockdown in history ahead of Easter when large and smaller congregations plan online worship services due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, groups of believers also defied restrictions or found new ways to prepare for their upcoming celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.
In Australia, the Catholic archbishop of Brisbane delivered a Good Friday Mass to a deserted St Stephen’s cathedral. Elsewhere a couple in Adelaide, South Australia, was among those watching an Anglican service from home, Worthy News learned.
In Southeast Asia, Catholics defied restrictions. In the Philippines capital, Manila onlookers watched a man whipping his back as a penance to show Jesus suffering, despite government orders for people to stay at home. In the same city, many Christians were praying outside churches closed in the lockdown, press photographers reported.
Some congregations defied government orders to remain closed, including in Brazil, Africa, and the United States. Devoted Christians attempting to attend a church service found closed doors. A pilgrim in Jerusalem was seen in front of locked doors at the Holy Sepulchre church in Jerusalem.
In Europe, Pope Francis led the traditional Passion in St Peter’s Basilica and the prayer of the Stations of the Cross in a near-empty Saint Peter’s Square. With Italian Catholics forced to stay home, they could follow proceedings online from Vatican City. “This year, measures taken to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, made it necessary to hold the service without the physical presence of the faithful,” the Vatican’s news service said.
And in heavily Catholic Poland, at least one priest started taking confession from the faithful in the parking lot of his church in the capital Warsaw. Sitting on a chair and wearing a surgical mask, Father Mateusz Kielarski listened to his parishioners and gave them absolution as they leaned out of their car windows.
“From the safety of their car, they can take care of their soul while protecting their bodies from germs in this special time,” he told reporters. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, including in Hungary, evangelicals have streamed services online.
One German church came up with a way around the restrictions – a service at a drive-in cinema in Düsseldorf. And nuns at a Benedictine convent in Rixensart, Belgium, tried to observe social distancing rules as they assembled for a Good Friday service.
Government leaders in several countries have warned Christians that restrictions will remain in place for at least weeks, if not months.