All Sunday Mass and Saturday night vigils at the Catholic church in Reykjavík have been cancelled following reports of alleged infection prevention regulation infractions over the holidays. The Chancellor of the Catholic church’s Diocese in Iceland Jakob Rolland states that infection prevention regulations are necessary but that it’s not acceptable that the same rules apply everywhere, RÚV reports. He claims no infections have been traced to Masses at the church and that they may make changes to weekday religious services as well because of gathering limits.
All official Sunday Masses and Saturday night Vigils at the Catholic church have been cancelled as they don’t comply with infection prevention regulations, according to a notice from David Tencer, the Catholic bishop of Iceland.
“We aren’t unhappy with the infection prevention regulations. It’s completely clear that such rules are necessary and that we need to comply. On the other hand, the same rules need to apply everywhere with similar conditions. We’re unhappy that there aren’t the same rules for restaurants, entertainment establishments, concerts and the church,” says Jakob. “the church isn’t more dangerous than any other place.”
Infection prevention regulations infractions have occurred twice in Landakotskirkja over the holidays, last on Sunday when the police were called during a Polish-language Mass. The police counted 51 people in the church but the gathering ban currently in place limits the number of people allowed to gather in churches to 10. Another infraction occurred on Christmas Eve when crowd sizes again exceeded 10.
Jakob told RÚV that the church’s priests didn’t have it in them to turn people away. People need to pray and get support from their congregation. “The world is in a serious condition. And the need to pray might be greater now than usual.”
He says that due to recent events, the church’s bishop decided to cancel weekend masses. If more than 10 people arrive at mass on a weekday, people will presumably be turned away or more services added to the schedule. “We will either have to turn people away or operate in such a way that no more than 10 people gather at a time,” says Jakob.
The media has reported that infection preventions in the church were lacking and that priests didn’t use hand sanitiser before distributing communion wafers. Jakob states that no infections can be traced to the church. “So I believe that we have at least as strict, if not stricter rules than most. Priests must also consider their ways and adhere more closely to the recommended rules.”
When asked if it was more important to pray in the church than to obey infection prevention regulations, Jakob replied. “God’s laws apply first and foremost, that’s obvious. But we must also follow infection prevention regulations. And the two can go together.”