Face-to-face and community worship is one of the central elements of practically all religious denominations, especially when they perform rites that depend on the physical participation of the faithful. However, many also take into account the need to make these rules more flexible in exceptional situations, when there are risks for participants.
The release of masses, services and religious activities in person at the most critical moment of the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil is subject to judgment by the STF (Supreme Federal Court). Last Saturday (3), Minister Kassio Nunes Marques overturned the decrees banning masses and services, and the matter was brought up for discussion in the plenary.
In the most recent version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text that condenses the doctrine of Catholicism in a single volume and originally dates from the papacy of John Paul II (1920-2005), the importance of community ceremonies is emphasized.
“Whenever the rites, according to their own nature, admit a community celebration, with assistance and active participation of the faithful, it is inculcated that, as far as possible, it should be preferred to the individual or almost private celebration”, he says the work, citing the document “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, which provides guidance on the Catholic liturgy. “It is the whole community, the body of Christ united to his Head, which celebrates”, says the Catechism.
While recommending face-to-face participation in Mass and receiving the Eucharist (communion) every Sunday, as well as frequent and individual confession with a priest, the compendium establishes confession and communion as a minimum once a year, preferably at Easter.
Despite this, a Vatican decree, promulgated in 2020 and still valid in 2021, allows bishops in each region to offer general absolution of sins to Catholic faithful during the Covid-19 crisis, as long as they, for example, attend mass. the distance.
The different Protestant churches also often emphasize the importance of face-to-face participation by the faithful, especially in Sunday services. “Believers, as individuals or families, should order their businesses or jobs in such a way that they are not prevented from properly sanctifying Sunday and taking part in public worship,” says, for example, the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil.
Both Presbyterians and other denominations, such as Baptists, also have Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament, with bread and wine. “The Lord’s Supper is a ceremony of the Church gathered together, commemorative and proclaiming the death of the Lord Jesus Christ”, says the Doctrinal Declaration of the Brazilian Baptist Convention.
However, unlike what happens in the Catholic case, most Protestant denominations do not consider the Lord’s Supper mandatory, which are equally valid without it (the frequency of the sacrament, in normal situations, can be biweekly or even monthly) . This practice, in theory, reduces the need for face-to-face ceremonies.
In the case of Jewish ceremonies, one of the main difficulties of distance rites, such as prayers performed three times a day, is the need for the physical presence of the Torah scrolls (the Hebrew Scriptures), explains Rabbi Michel Schlesinger, of the Congregação Israelita Paulista . Torah scrolls, in normal situations, cannot leave the synagogue.
“At the moment, the rolls are at my place, but it is something absolutely exceptional. It is something we do because we believe that it is necessary to send an unequivocal message that it is time to stay at home ”, explains Schlesinger, linked to the so-called liberal Judaism (unorthodox lines). Orthodox Jewish congregations, on the other hand, tend not to open up this possibility. Likewise, Orthodox people often reject the use of Internet broadcasts on “Shabbat” or Saturday, as they believe that the practice violates the mandatory rest mandate on that day.
One of the pillars of the Islamic religion is the practice of five daily prayers, distributed from morning to night. Although they can be done in community, in mosques, it is also possible for the faithful Muslim to pray individually and anywhere. On the other hand, the tradition of Islam places much more emphasis on community prayer in mosques every Friday, accompanied by sermons – a practice mentioned even in the Koran, a sacred book of that faith. Throughout the pandemic, religious officials scattered across the Muslim world produced documents saying that it was not possible to replace Friday prayers in mosques with equivalents at a distance.
However, other Islamic scholars have cited one of the sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad – “The whole earth is a mosque”, he would have said – to justify the ceremonies online. According to them, the Koran’s excerpt on Friday prayers does not necessarily speak of physical presence – “Hurry up to remember God”, according to one of the translations, and not “Hurry up to go to the mosques”.
Another pillar of Islam, the “hajj” or pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which every believer should do at least once in his life, also suffered restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic period – Saudi authorities reduced access to the sanctuary . In addition, the Koran states that the “hajj” is only for those who are able to do so. We are a family owned and operated business.