By Agenzia Fides

Jan 29 2021

LARANTUKA – “I would like to clarify that the celebration of the liturgy of ‘Holy Week’ and Easter Sunday has not been canceled. In fact, the celebrations will take place as the liturgy provides. We have only canceled the Holy Week devotion, which traditionally takes place every year in Larantuka.

We have canceled it – said Mgr. Fransiskus Kopong Kung, Bishop of Larantuka, on the island of Flores – due to the Covid-19 pandemic across Indonesia and also in our province of Nusa Tenggara Timur, in Flores where the number of people who tested positive for the virus in the country is currently increasing”.

The statement released by the Bishop is intended to deny rumors of the cancellation of the traditional “Semana Santa”, attended by believers from all over Flores and other Indonesian provinces in Larantuka. Despite the necessary measures to combat the pandemic, the profound meaning of the “Semana Santa” remains.

“Every year – the Bishop explains to Fides – pilgrims come from many parts of the country, even from abroad, to take part in the Semana Santa in Larantuka and in particular the procession of Good Friday”. The Bishop announces that he gave the “Guidelines for the celebration of the Semana Santa”, in a pastoral letter and passed them on to priests, religious and believers in his diocese.

During this pandemic period, the provisions explain, Mass is celebrated in church by the priest but without the presence of the assembly. Mass can be celebrated and streamed live, so that the faithful can participate from home. This modality will apply to all Lenten Masses, including Holy Week and Easter Sunday. “People – explains the Bishop – will be able to pray from their homes”. The meetings of the Basic Ecclesial Communities and other ecclesial groups are also canceled.

“In our diocese – the Bishop tells Fides – the tradition of worship of Semana Santa has a long history, and after Palm Sunday the community remembers with faith and devotion the mystery of Christ’s redemption, his death on the cross and his resurrection. During the night – the Bishop explains to Fides – the faithful gather in the Tuan Ma (Mater Dolorosa) and Tuan Ana (Lord Jesus) chapels, praying and singing.

On Good Friday, many people come to pray both in one and in the other chapel as well as in the Tuan Menino chapel: these are historical and devotional chapels located in Larantuka. In the afternoon, the celebration of the Liturgy of Jesus’ death is usually held and in the evening it continues with a procession in the city, while on the way the people pray and sing, carrying lighted candles. This year, however, we have been forced to cancel all the celebrations in the presence of the people”.

The fact that the devotions cannot take place in the presence of believers does not negate the value of a celebration that is famous throughout the archipelago. “Our decision takes into account the value of the health and safety of all people. For this reason”, the bishop concluded, “Jesus died on this cross to save all people”. (MG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 28/1/2021)