The Archdiocese of Manila has suspended public masses for seven days after President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metro Manila on virtual lockdown.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, announced the suspension in his pastoral letter today, citing the recently raised Code Red Alert Sub-Level 2, the highest local alert level for COVID-19.
“We heed this call not with panic but with care for charity to others and the common good,” the bishop said.
“There will be no public celebration of the Holy Mass and no public activities in all the churches in the Archdiocese for 7 days, starting Saturday, March 14, till Friday, March 20.”
The Manila Archdiocese covers the cities of Manila, Makati, Pasay, San Juan, and Mandaluyong.
PASTORAL LETTER: A CALL OF CHARITY FOR THE COMMON GOOD
Manila Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo releases an instruction temporarily cancelling public celebration of the Holy Mass and public activities in churches in the Archdiocese of Manila pic.twitter.com/qBb1M63yNs
— Manila Cathedral (@CathedralManila) March 13, 2020
Although public masses won’t be held, the bishop has ordered churches to remain open so that people still have a place to pray individually. Sanitizers will be available at the entrances and the churches will be regularly cleaned.
The bishop also ordered church bells to ring every day at noon and at 8pm to encourage people to recite the Oratio Imperata — a prayer for deliverance against calamities — to ward against COVID-19.
“Let families gather together at 8pm to pray as a family for divine protection,” Pabillo said.
This is the first time in recent history that masses have been suspended in the country’s capital. The Philippines has a largely Catholic population and is one of the few predominantly Christian countries in Asia.
Separately, Health Secretary Francisco Duque told Radyo Inquirer today that he is calling for a ban on attending church masses, as well as going to cinemas as a preventive measure against the disease.
He said that crowded church masses are like “petri dish” for the virus. The same goes for movie houses. “We must sacrifice so that we can address this health crisis,” Duque said
This article, No public mass in Manila churches for a week to curb COVID-19, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!