Ordination Mass in East Nusa Tenggara draws hundreds despite COVID-19 warnings

A livestream of the Mass, which took place at the Ruteng Cathedral, was posted on Facebook. Photo: West Manggarai Regency / Facebook
A livestream of the Mass, which took place at the Ruteng Cathedral, was posted on Facebook. Photo: West Manggarai Regency / Facebook

Hundreds of people reportedly attended an ordination Mass for a new bishop in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) this morning, despite last-minute requests to cancel the event amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The Mass reportedly began at 9am today to celebrate the ordination of Siprianus Hormat, who is the new bishop of Ruteng, the capital of NTT’s Manggarai regency that is situated on Flores island.

Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Doni Monardo, who heads Indonesia’s COVID-19 rapid-response team, had requested the Archdiocese of Ruteng to postpone the ordination Mass to prevent spreading the disease. 

“I beg to the Cardinal to please postpone the mass Ordination for Ruteng Bishop, for the sake of humanity,” Doni said in a letter sent to the cardinal, as quoted by Kompas.

In the letter, Doni laid out the rising number of cases across the globe and highlighted the dangers posed by carriers of COVID-19 that could possibly expose many others to the disease. 

“It’s very dangerous if it transmits to an elderly person or those with pre-existing illnesses. The carriers could potentially cause deaths.”

The viral disease threat that has not missed Indonesia evidently did not serve as an adequate deterrent for worshippers from attending the mass gathering. 

Manggarai Regent Deno Kamelus reasoned that it was difficult to simply cancel the event because it had been planned for months. 

“The government and organizers of the ordination Mass for Ruteng Archbishop continues to monitor the worshippers who have arrived from out of Manggarai, for as long as they remain in Ruteng,” Deno said, as quoted by Kompas

According to reports, those who attended had their temperatures checked using a thermogun. Local media outlets estimated that there may be up to 1,500 people in attendance. 

The Mass was reportedly led by Cardinal Suharyo, who is the archbishop of Jakarta. 

As of yesterday afternoon, Indonesia has recorded a total of 227 COVID-19 patients in the country, 19 of whom have died while 11 have recovered.

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