By Robin Gomes
Catholics in Indonesia will follow their Holy Week services on state television and radio, and several private TV stations, in an effort to stem the spread of the Coronavirus-19.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday declared a nationwide state of emergency as coronavirus deaths in the south-east nation surged again, but he stopped short of ordering a nationwide lockdown.
The foreign ministry said the government would ban all arrivals and transit by foreigners in the country.
In keeping with the rules of mobility and social distancing, the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI) has decided to suspend all public religious services until 30 April, Easter Masses included.
In the south-east Asian nation that is home to the world's largest Muslim population, Catholics can follow celebrations live on TVRI (Televisi Republik Indonesia) and RRI (Radio Republik Indonesia), plus three private TV stations: Kompas TV, MNC Vision, Emtek Group.
KWI President, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta will lead some of the main Masses and liturgies.
Jakarta Archdiocese chief secretary Fr Adi Prasojo announced that Indonesian parishes could arrange for streaming live their church services according to their capacities.
Disappointment and complaints have been expressed by Catholics from many parts of the around the sprawling archipelago, where Wi-Fi connection is still limited and data transmission on smartphones is expensive. Many people cannot afford to watch Mass on YouTube for more than an hour.
Holy Week services on radio and TV were made possible by days of negotiations between the authorities and the Catholic association Komunitas Universal (KU).
KU chief YB Haryono personally contacted Minister of Communication and Information Technology Johnny G. Plate, a Catholic, and Fr Harry Sulistio, head of the Social Communications Commission of the Archdiocese of Jakarta.
They discussed how Catholics could connect to live streaming without any advertisement and at a lower cost for mobile reception. After coming to an agreement with TVRI and RRI management, Haryono and Fr Sulistio also struck a deal with Kompas TV, MNC Vision, and Emtek Group.
According to Haryono, "All of this is the result of teamwork, without which nothing would have been possible."
With a population of over 260 million, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, after China, India and the United States.
With 129 new cases reported on Monday, the total infections in Indonesia rose to 1,528 with 136 deaths. Current infections stand at 1,311, with 81 recoveries. (Source: AsiaNews)