By Analou De Vera
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) encouraged the faithful to attend Masses through television or online streaming amid the localized transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The CBCP issued recommendations for local dioceses through its Circular No. 20-14 highlighting the Department of Health’s (DOH) recommendation on social distancing.
The CBCP is recommending that each diocese consider exercising their “prerogative to dispense the faithful from their Sunday and the Holy Days of Obligation.”
“Such a dispensation, however, does not excuse us from our duty to provide the faithful with spiritual nourishment especially in time of crisis. Every diocese must therefore provide for the celebration of the Eucharist, other liturgical services and spiritual activities, transmitted live through the internet, television, or radio,” CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles said.
“We should continue to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and Holy Week liturgical celebrations even in the absence of a congregation. In spite of the fact that our faithful 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 digital technology,” he added.
Valles said each diocese must encourage the faithful to “avail themselves of these and pray together in their homes as a family or in their small Christian communities.”
Valles said this recommended action is necessary following the government’s decision to raise the alert system for COVID-19 to Code Red Sublevel Two.
“We are morally obliged to cooperate and support all the precautionary measures that our health officials and government leaders offer us to keep our people safe and healthy,” Valles said. “With our communal efforts we can help the government control the further spread of this disease.”
Valles also said all churches should be kept open so that those who need to pray and seek prayerful moments may find solace and strength.
He encouraged bishops, religious, and the clergy to spend time in silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for the safety of their flock and the healing of the sick.
All clergymen must continue to minister to the sick by offering them the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, while following the necessary precautions proposed by the DOH, particularly the wearing of a face mask, Valles said.
“We are enjoining all the Local Ordinaries and the Diocesan Administrators to call for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for all those who are infected with the COVID-19 and those who have died, and for our deliverance from this pandemic,” he said. “We ask all our parishes to sound together the church bells at 12:00 noon and 8:00 pm and pray the Oratio Imperata.”
Valles also reminded the public to observe hygiene protocol and the cleanliness of churches and church facilities.
“Let us encourage our faithful to be open to the vulnerable, especially the poor, and share our resources with them,” Valles added. “We pray for the immediate resolution of this temporary crisis. This is a time of difficulty but also a time for growing in true discipleship as we strive to follow the Lord in selfless love and service of others.”