Shortage prompts priests to celebrate more than 3 Masses daily

Published December 21, 2020, 11:05 AM

by Leslie Ann Aquino

Due to the shortage of Catholic priests in the country, some Catholic priests have to celebrate more than three Masses a day.


“Because we don’t have enough priests, some of our priests have been doing it already even before the pandemic, with permission from the bishop, of course, due to pastoral demands,” Caloocan Bishop Pablo David said in an interview Saturday.

Archdiocese of Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo said priests celebrating more than three Masses a day is not new to them.

“Since we lack priests, many priests even celebrate four Masses especially on a Sunday,” he said.

“It’s already a regular thing for a priest to say three or four Masses during Sundays. It depends on the pastoral need,” added Pabillo.

Due to the persistence of the COVID-19 virus, the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has issued a decree granting to the local Ordinary permission to allow priests in their dioceses to celebrate four Masses on certain days during the Christmas season such as  Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco has left the decision  to preside over more than three Masses to  his priests.

“I leave it to the discretion of each parish priest depending on the pastoral needs of their constituents,” he said.

In the past, Monsignor Pedro Quitorio III, media director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said a priest is allowed three Masses a day. 

But if a diocese, he said, don’t have enough priests, they can have four or five if given permission by the bishop.

The CBCP official said there’s a need to put limit to the number of Masses that a priest can celebrate.

“So they won’t tire and to also avoid abuses. You see for every Mass there’s a stipend,” Quitorio said.

The faithful generally makes an offering, called a stipend, to the priest in order to apply the Mass to a specific intention. The offering of a stipend is also the faithful’s way of contributing to the upkeep of the clergy, and the Church in general.