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Toronto pilgrims not welcome at US shrine

The SARS outbreak caused the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy to request pilgrims from Canada not to come to the past weekend's celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.

About 20,000 people were expected at the shrine in western Massachusetts for the annual celebration that follows a week after Easter.

Shrine spokeswoman Kathleen Ervin said organisers did not expect that number to decrease significantly because of SARS fears. The decision to ask pilgrims from Ontario not to come was made after consultation with the Massachusetts Department of Health, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, she said.

The ban on groups from Canada affected 11 busloads of pilgrims, all from the region around Toronto that was included in the World Health Organisation's advisory against travel there, she said. No bus groups from other parts of Canada had made plans to come to Stockbridge, but they would not have been affected by the restriction, according to Ervin.

Catholic News Service

National Shrine of the Divine Mercy
Philippines: Parishioners Help Get Food To Villagers Isolated By SARS (UCAN News)
Mongolia: Church Implements Government Directive To Prevent Spread Of SARS (UCAN News)
Filipino Cardinal's anti-SARS request to avoid kissing icons (28/4/03)

29 Apr 2003