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Several churches cancel midnight mass, Christmas worship service

Several churches in Hungary have cancelled their Christmas Eve midnight mass and Christmas Day worship service, while others are making attendance conditional on pre-registration or limiting the number of people allowed inside the church, due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Though the government’s decision to suspend the night curfew on December 24 gives churches the opportunity to hold a midnight mass, many have decided to move it online or cancel it altogether, Tamas Toth, the secretary of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (MKPK), told MTI on Tuesday.

Dioceses that have opted to cancel their midnight mass include Szekesfehervar, Debrecen and Pecs, Toth said, noting that the number of church-goers who regularly gather in those cities for service would make it impossible to comply with coronavirus-related restrictions.

The diocese of Vac is making attendance of the midnight mass conditional on registration, he said.

Several dioceses will be holding their mass earlier in the evening and will be organising worship services on December 25 and 26, Toth added.

Church-goers are required to wear face masks and observe physical distancing rules, he noted.

The Hungarian Reformed Church said the decision to hold worship services will be left up to local priests. The Reformed Church’s synod asked church members to limit in-person worship services to the churches in which they can guarantee compliance with the restrictions. Churches that cannot adhere to the rules should hold their services outdoors or online, it added.

The Lutheran Information Service said the decision to organise worship services is up to the congregation boards. Several churches will organise their Christmas Eve service outdoors, it said. Many churches are requiring congregation members to register to attend the service, while others will hold online services.

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