Is the shutdown threatening religious freedom?
Easter, the most important Christian celebration, is just around the corner, but this year things will be very different. As a result of curfews and social distancing, church doors will remain closed and services will not take place. The churches have resorted to online services and the Pope will also stream live from Rome. Media discuss the shutdown's impact on believers.
Sacraments require physical participation
The social distancing measures pose great challenges to the Church, especially at Easter time, Die Presse points out:
“Especially during Lent and Easter, the ban on services hits the Church particularly hard. It can only perform its most valuable services, the liturgy and the sacraments, under alienating circumstances, and must exclude the faithful from them. ... The Church is well aware of the problem that there can be no virtual Eucharistic celebration, because sacraments always require physical participation. Accordingly, the Bishops' Conference's instructions for holding the Holy Week liturgies are both careful and strict. There should be no misunderstanding to the effect that virtual participation is the same as real participation.”
Back to the original meaning of Easter
Polityka believes this Easter could be more contemplative than ever despite the lack of church services:
“Many people are saying that this is the strangest Easter in their lives. But also that the forced isolation and the rituals it entails have freed these days from the usual worldly hustle and bustle. They've restored the original, not necessarily religious, meaning to these holidays: the confrontation with the fear of death and loneliness, the search for community and the presence of others, and the hope of renewal, rebirth and survival.”
Malicious priests luring believers to mass
Although the Church in Croatia has also suspended religious services for the public until further notice, there are priests who refuse to accept this decision. By calling on people to come to mass they are leading their congregations to ruin, Jutarnji list admonishes:
“Such priests are not concerned about teaching about love and peace between people, they are malicious. The Church was ashamed. The faithful were asked to forgive Father Josip, who led them directly to the source of infection. They were told that in religion, too, wisdom is important and people should take care of themselves and others. And then another priest came along who wants the faithful at mass. Probably to give them the last Anointing so that he doesn't have to run to the dying.”