By Christina Hermoso
Calls are mounting for the government to finally allow public masses while observing all the safety precautions amid the ongoing enhanced community quarantine.
In a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News post, Archdiocese of Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo said, “religious services are also essential services” at this time of crisis.
“When the decision makers consider the essential services to be allowed, they should also consider the opening of the churches and its services as important,” Pabillo said.
Public masses are still not allowed in areas under the ECQ and even in areas under the more relaxed general community quarantine. Holy masses continue to be streamed online while those who do not have internet access may watch the Eucharistic celebration on TV.
Pabillo said that safety measures will be observed in churches once public masses are allowed including social distancing and sanitation practices.
“Religion is very important to many Filipinos for it gives them strength especially in difficult times. One of the things that people save first in times of disaster, for instance, are their religious images and Bibles,” he said.
“The signs of God in their lives are very important for the people. Public masses will uplift their spirits to a great extent. Allowing people to go back to church to thank the Lord, to ask for his protection and implore his help, are deemed very important by the people,” Pabillo stressed.
For his part, Fr. Elias Ayuban, superior of the Claretian congregation in the Philippines said, “it is about time to reopen the doors of our churches for people to pray. While it is true that we can pray anywhere, there is no place like the church and no celebration like the mass,” he said.
The Council of the Laity of the Philippines, meanwhile said, it is willing to submit plans, protocols, and guidelines to assure authorities of their strict observance of safety measures during religious worship in GCQ areas.
“With strict compliance to government guidelines on social distancing and sanitation, the lay faithful requests for religious gatherings to be allowed in the GCQ areas,” said Rouquel Ponte, CLP president.