Inclusion of Public worship as part of essential services

Inclusion of Public worship as part of essential services


Shri Hemant Soren

The Honourable Chief Minister of Jharkhand

Project Bhawan, Mantralaya

HEC Admin, Ranchi, Jharkhand 834004

Greetings from the Catholic Church in Ranchi.

At the very outset, we wish to congratulate you and your Government for the wonderful work you and your collaborators have been doing in different areas during the COVID crisis and the lockdown period. We really appreciate your leadership which has been characterised by efficiency and compassion for the poor, the migrantsand the marginalised. You have been leading from the front quietly but with determination and without much media noise or propaganda. Please do accept our appreciation. We are also proud of our District Administration led by Shri Rai Mahimapat Ray and the Local Police for the way they have handled the COVID crisis in our area taking care of the health aspect as well as that of the migrants and those on the margins of society.

Dear Hemantji, you will be aware of the proactive and dynamic collaboration that the Catholic Church has been providing to the District administration in Ranchi. Our Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, Women and Youth have been running 14 shelters with capacity of 200 each for migrants that were stranded in Ranchi District or are in transit through Ranchi to other places. We have been distributing 15 day complete food rations to a few thousands of families, throughout the district, who are in absolute need. We have also been running two community kitchens and over the last week and more we have begun providing dry meals to migrants travelling through different chowks in the District leading to highways. The Catholic Church is providing a number of services in the rest of the State also.

While the sudden lockdown has put pressure on various sections of society and sectors of activity, a slow re-entry into normalcy is now taking place and essential services are being steadily restored. It is inthis connection that we are writing to you our dear Chief Minister.

Some essential services were exempted from the lockdown initially and more were added to the exemption list subsequently. As per the lockdown rules periodically emanating from the MHA, public worship and religious gatherings are forbidden. As the Prime Minister and most leaders of our country would be aware, India is a deeply spiritual country and we believe that despite the poverty, misery and sufferings of our people they have always been sustained by their deep faith in God and their participation in community worship. We firmly believe that “man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. While we are conscious of the infectious nature of COVID 19, we also believe that community worship is necessary for believers of all religions to unitedly bring forth our prayer to God, to receive encouragement in our lives and to obtain spiritual strength and support.

With the resumption of public transport and train services (although in reduced form) and permission being granted to even fly in closed planes, we feel a total ban on community worship is unfair and unjustified.

We are grateful to your government and the Jhargov.TV portal for helping us with the live webcast of our Sunday Services. However just as there cannot be online bodily nutrition to people, online spiritual services too cannot be a lasting solution. For a community of faith, whatever religion people may belong to, participating in community worship is essential and this right cannot be and should not be denied. Community worship is an essential service and we request the Government to include it among the essential services permitted.

We therefore request you dear Chief Minister to place before the Government of India our proposal to allow us to resume public worship in our places of worship to be organized following the norms of public health safety including social distancing and sanitation.

We thank you for your attention and early action.

We assure you our prayers. May the Almighty keep you, your collaborators and your family safe.

With our best wishes

X Felix Toppo SJ,

​​​​​​​​X Theodore Mascarenhas SFX,

Archbishop of Ranchi        ​​​​​​​

Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi

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