IATF puts on agenda Church bid to open churches at 10 percent capacity for Holy Week
MANILA, Philippines—The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will discuss on Thursday (March 25) the request of Catholic Church officials to allow 10 percent attendance in churches during the Holy Week.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the IATF, said on the task force’s agenda on Thursday is the request of the Church “to be allowed a maximum of 10 percent attendance in churches during the Triduum from Holy Thursday to Black Saturday as well as on Easter Sunday.”
This will coincide with the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, Guervarra said.
According to him, representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had expressed full understanding of the current public health crisis that prompted the IATF to issue Resolution No. 104 restricting, among others, mass gatherings which included public religious worship.
“In fact, some dioceses had voluntarily decided to close even before the issuance of the subject IATF resolution,” said Guevarra.
With the implementation of the general community quarantine bubble in National Capital Region (NCR) and the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal, religious gatherings are prohibited from March 22 to April 4 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a pastoral statement on Tuesday (March 23), Manila apostolic administrator Archbishop Broderick Pabillo announced that the Archdiocese of Manila will hold religious services with 10 churches at 10 percent capacity starting on March 24.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the government will order the closure of Catholic churches that will defy the IATF directive banning religious gatherings.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, CBCP Public Affairs Committee executive secretary, said in a television interview on Wednesday that Church officials met with Pabillo on Tuesday night.
Secillano quoted Pabillo as saying he was just expressing a religious right and felt that people may need spiritual activities and sustenance during the Holy Week.
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