The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro decided to keep its churches closed as a preventive measure against the advance of the coronavirus in Brazil, the second country most affected by the pandemic in the world, despite the fact that the mayor of this city, the evangelical pastor Marcelo Crivella, authorized to operate.
The Archdiocese of the Catholic Church in the most emblematic city of Brazil alleged that it is concerned with the health of the faithful and that it will only authorize the reopening of the temples after the “effective control” of the pandemic.
“The Archdiocese is attentive to the development of the pandemic and, therefore, the opening of parishes and chapels will only occur when effective control of the disease is guaranteed. In the meantime, the faithful will continue to receive spiritual assistance through the Internet and from digital media, “according to a statement sent to churches Wednesday.
The decision was announced after a meeting of the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Joao Orani Tempesta, with his seven auxiliary bishops and with his main collaborators to analyze the decision announced Monday by the Mayor’s Office.
“We are concerned with human and spiritual life. We want the good of people and, therefore, we want them to have health,” Tempesta said in a message to the faithful.
At the meeting, a protocol was also discussed with sanitary security measures, such as distance between the faithful, use of face masks and restrictions on greetings and hugs, which will be launched when the reopening of the churches is finally authorized.
“For the return to the anxious and dear face-to-face participation of the faithful we are preparing guidelines on the cleaning of the temples and their dependencies and training the people who will guide the faithful in the various religious activities,” added the statement from the Archdiocese. .
Crivella, who has indicated his intention to authorize the normalization of various activities in Rio de Janeiro despite the fact that contagion rates continue to grow, on Monday included churches and temples, of any religion, among the “essential services” that may operate during quarantine.
The mayor of Rio, who aspires to be reelected next October, authorized the reopening of the churches and temples but conditioned it to the adoption of some preventive measures such as the distribution of gel alcohol and the obligation for the faithful to keep a minimum distance two meters from each other.
Former Senator Crivella, an influential evangelical pastor and nephew of the founder and leader of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Edir Macedo, defended the start of the resumption of activities in Rio, without specifying a date, after a meeting he had with the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, one of the most skeptical rulers about the severity of the pandemic and who called COVID-19 a “flu”.
The far-right leader defends the immediate normalization of all activities, considering that unemployment can cause more deaths than the coronavirus.
Some regional and municipal governments in Brazil have begun to lift social isolation measures despite the fact that the number of infections and deaths from the pandemic continues to grow every day in the country and the peak of the transmission curve is only scheduled for July.
With nearly 400,000 infected, Brazil is the second country in the world with the highest number of coronavirus cases after the United States and the sixth with the most deaths, with almost 25,000, but since Monday it has become the one with the most victims per day.
Rio de Janeiro is the second state most affected by the pandemic in Brazil after Sao Paulo, which is the most populous in the country.