No Holy Week Mass, church rituals in NCR due to COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — Catholic bishops in Metro Manila have suspended the celebration of the Holy Mass in the capital region until April 14, as well as other religious activities during the Holy Week, amid the growing concerns on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“We will abide by the government’s directive to suspend all large gatherings from March 15 to April 14. So there will be no celebration of the Holy Mass with a large congregation within this period, plus other religious activities during the Holy Week which usually attract huge crowds of the faithful,” the bishops said in a pastoral statement released on Monday.
This order covers the Holy Mass and other religious activities in the Archdiocese of Manila, in the Dioceses of Cubao, Novaliches, Pasig, Kalookan, Parañaque, parts of both the Diocese of Antipolo and Malolos that belong to Metro Manila and some parts of the Military Vicariate of the Philippines.
The bishops said they will heed the instruction of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in its circular 20-14 which reads that the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and Holy Week liturgical celebrations, even in the absence of a congregation, should be continued.
“In spite of the fact that our faith cannot be physically present in the Eucharistic celebration, the crisis gives us the opportunity to unite ourselves with one another in the bond of spiritual communion through the digital technology,” the circular also notes.
The timeframe was in accordance with the community quarantine being implemented in Metro Manila, and in select areas outside the capital region, as the government seeks to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“Since the dates for the Metro Manila community quarantine will coincide with the last three Sundays of Lent, and Holy Week, it would mean that the liturgical celebrations during those days, including Palm Sunday, the rest of the Holy Week and Easter Sunday will not be open to the public,” the bishops said.
There will also be no public blessing of palms, the Visita Iglesia, Siete Palabras, Good Friday procession and Easter Salubong. Instead, Catholics are encouraged to stay at home and follow these activities on television, radio, or online.
Baptisms, conformations, and weddings scheduled within the period may push through but will be subject to “severe restrictions” on the number of participants and attendees. Proper social distancing should also be observed in these events, said the bishops.
“All other celebrations of these aforementioned sacraments are to be deferred,” they added.
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