The Episcopal Conference of Guatemala (CEG) rejected the celebration of virtual liturgies as decreed by the country’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, in a state of calamity that includes a night curfew to curb the upsurge of covid-19 infections.
“We declare that worship and religious activity constitute an essential value of the life of believers in Guatemala. It is, therefore, a service that must be provided like others authorized” by the president, the CEG said in a statement Friday night.
Given this, they asked Congress to modify the provision which “prohibits mass attendance and participation in religious activities and worship inside churches or outdoors.”
To achieve the objective, the cardinals commit that religious activities will be regulated “strictly by the corresponding capacity according to the current epidemiological traffic light” of the Ministry of Health, where red represents many contagions, orange an intermediate level and green a few.
The recent board published this Saturday and in force for 14 days establishes that 305 of the 340 municipalities are red, 21 in orange and only 14 in green.
Last Thursday, the governor announced in a message to the nation the state of calamity that will be in force for one month and restricts several constitutional rights such as free locomotion. In addition, religious, sports, artistic and educational activities, among others, will have to be carried out 100% virtually.
The curfew will be in force from 20H00 to 04H00 local time the following day.
The unicameral Congress -controlled by the ruling party and its allies- will have three days to approve, reject or modify the state of calamity.
The government had decreed a state of calamity last August 13, but it was repealed by Parliament eleven days later.
As of Friday, Guatemala, with a population of about 17 million inhabitants, has 484,263 cases and 12,155 deaths due to covid-19, at a time when the number of contagions exceeds 5,000 per day.