CBCP: Churches to stay closed to public on Holy Week

CATHOLIC churches in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in the four nearby provinces that are included in the NCR plus 4 bubble will comply with the government’s decision not to hold public masses during the Holy Week, according to a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) official.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, CBCP executive secretary, said on Thursday that while the Church really wanted the physical presence of the faithful even on a limited capacity, they have to comply with the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) disallowing all Church activities, including masses until April 4, Easter Sunday.

He said that the IATF instruction was so “impractical”, considering that only a few would be allowed to enter the church and yet the IATF disallowed it.

But even as the churches would be off limits to the public, Secillano said that massess would still be held and speakers would be mounted outside.

He added that online masses and other traditional church activities during the Lenten season, like visita iglesia and Easter Sunday celebration can be accessed through Facebook and other social media platforms.

He also noted that the situation last year was worse compared to the present prohibition imposed on Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Bulacan.

“People within the bubble can go out of their homes but they cannot enter the church, while last year people were prohibited from going out of their houses. So the people now have a leeway. If they cannot enter the church, they can still hear mass outside the church,” Secillano said.

The IATF on Monday prohibited “mass gatherings”, including worship services until April 4, Easter Sunday.

The holding of weddings, baptisms, and funeral services, on the other hand, shall be limited to 10 persons.

The restrictions for Metro Manila and its adjacent provinces came as the country reported record-breaking Covid-19 cases in recent days.

The Archdiocese of Manila on Tuesday issued guidelines for Holy Week celebrations, allowing religious worship in parish churches at 10 percent capacity and strictly observing the health protocols.

But Malacañang said that it is “contrary” to the IATF policy, and cautioned that churches will be forcibly closed if they insisted on holding services.