POZNAŃ, Poland (ChurchMilitant.com) - The president of the Polish Bishops' Conference has directed his clergy to increase the number of Sunday Masses in churches throughout Poland during the coronavirus scare.
In a press release published on March 10, Poznań Abp. Stanisław Gądecki emphasized that hospitals treat bodily diseases and churches treat — among other things — spiritual diseases. "That is why it is unimaginable for us not to pray in our churches," the chairman of the Polish Episcopal Conference said.
The archbishop explained that his decision corroborates the recommendations of Poland's chief sanitary inspector that there should be no large gatherings of people. Thus, smaller numbers of believers can attend more of the various Sunday Masses made available, "according to the guidelines of the sanitary services," he said.
In connection with the recommendations of the Chief Sanitary Inspector that there should be no large gatherings of people, I ask to increase — as far as possible —the number of Sunday Masses in churches — wrote Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki.https://t.co/ImcIJSyizf pic.twitter.com/09PS8Zz1f0— Church in Poland (@ChurchInPoland) March 10, 2020
The response of Polish Catholic newspaper Polonia Christiana to the news of Gądecki's request was "Thank God!" It reported that Polish Catholics had been awaiting a message from the Polish episcopate especially in light of "the cowardly decision of Italian bishops."
"Polish hierarchs decided to stand in opposition to 'the political correctness' of the coronavirus era," according to the newspaper, "and reminded [the faithful] that prayers can affect the fate of the world and individual people! That is why Masses in Poland will not only not be banned — as in Italy — but there will be even more of them than before!"
Archbishop Gądecki said the elderly and sick can stay at home and follow the broadcasts of Holy Mass on TV Trwam and TV Polonia as well as Polish radio. He also reminded the faithful that "there is no requirement ... to convey the sign of peace by shaking hands."
He implored the faithful to pray for those who died as a result of the coronavirus: "Let us pray for the health of the sick and for the physicians, medical personnel and all services that work to stop the spread of the virus. Let us pray for the epidemic to end."
In particular, the Poznań prelate encouraged the faithful to pray the Trisagion, the invocation of "Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us," often sung on Good Friday and during the veneration of the Cross. In this way, "We pray for the end of the epidemic," he said, "in accordance with the Tradition of the Church."
The bishops of Italy have suspended all public Masses until April 3 in accordance with a decree issued by the Italian government on March 8, which called for the suspension of "civil and religious ceremonies, including funeral ceremonies."
Pope Francis also did not recite the Sunday, March 8 Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square, but he did go to the window to wave and to bless the pilgrims who showed up.
The Vatican had announced the day before that the Angelus prayer and the pope's weekly general audience March 11 would be livestreamed from the papal library "to avoid the risk of spreading the COVID-19."
The Italian government and Vatican city-state health services have asked people throughout Italy to avoid large gatherings in the hopes of slowing the spread of the virus.
According to the World Health Organization, there are 11 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Poland and zero deaths. There are 7,375 confirmed cases in Italy and 366 deaths. There are 121,564 confirmed cases worldwide.