AFTER the Archdiocese of Cebu announced the suspension of Masses in Cebu City chapels because of the rising Covid-19 cases, a police official reminded barangay captains to take an active role in monitoring any mass gathering in their areas or they may face criminal charges if they fail to do so.
Lt. Col. Wilbert Parilla, deputy director for operation of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, that President Rodrigo Duterte had ordered the police to press charges against village chiefs who failed to prevent or break up any event that gather a large number of participants or spectators.
The CCPO will also deploy its personnel to monitor the chapels in Cebu City’s 80 barangays. They will also be getting help from Task Force Kasaligan, a group of civilians who roam neighborhoods to remind residents to follow community quarantine protocols such as observing social distancing, avoiding mass gatherings and wearing masks.
The Archdiocese of Cebu announced on July 6 the suspension of Masses in the chapels, including the novena, fiesta and monthly Masses. The duration of the suspension is for the entire July.
Roman Catholic chapels in Cebu City are usually small and the social distancing rule is difficult to implement in a cramped space; most are located in the interior of the barangay; and each sitio (sub-village) has its own patron saint. There are fiestas in sitios, but the big event is the fiesta of the whole barangay in honor of the village’s patron saint.
The Masses in parish churches continue as these have big spaces.
In pre-pandemic times, devotees often stood shoulder to shoulder when they attended novena masses for the fiesta. Carnivals and discorals popped everywhere in sitios or barangays celebrating fiesta.
Cebu City logged a total of 482 new Covid-19 cases from June 29 to July 5. There were 66 new cases in June 29; 88, June 30; 59, July 1; 79, July 2; 84, July 3; 77, July 4; and 29, July 5, according to the daily reporting of cases by the Department of Health 7.
The 29 new cases recorded on Monday, July 5, brought Cebu City’s total cases to 25,971—24,195 recoveries, 881 deaths, and 895 active cases.
Last June 5, Cebu City only had a total of 538 active cases.
The decision to suspend chapel masses was reached after a coordination meeting with the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center, said Fr. Jonathan Rubin of the Archdiocese of Cebu, quoting the suspension notice from the Office of Msgr. Renato Beltran, chancellor of the Archdiocese.
Rubin, however, said novena masses and fiesta activities at the Carmelite Monastery, an autonomous chapel of the Carmelite nuns in Barangay Mabolo, is still a “go” but with strict implementation of the minimum health protocols such as observing social distancing and wearing masks.
In a separate interview, Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Cebu, also said that the Carmelite nuns, in their Facebook announcements, have been encouraging people to participate in the novena masses and other activities via online.
The Archdiocese said the suspension of chapel Masses just one of the major changes in the liturgical health protocols to be implemented in Cebu City parishes; a circular on the liturgical changes for Cebu City parishes will be issued this week and by the end of the month, there will be an assessment of the changes. (WBS, AYB / KAL)