The national government will review the Catholic Church’s request to hold in-person Masses not exceeding 10% capacity on Holy Week, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday, March 24.
“On the table for the IATF’s consideration tomorrow is the request of the Catholic Church to be allowed a maximum of 10% attendance in churches during the triduum (Holy Thursday-Good Friday-Black Saturday), as well as on Easter Sunday,” said Guevarra, a senior member of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
Triduum begins on April 1 to April 4, which will coincide with celebrations of the quincentennial of Christianity in the Philippines.
This follows the announcement of the Archdiocese of Manila that they will proceed with in-person Masses at 10% capacity, in defiance of the IATF prohibition on all types of mass gatherings.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the archdiocese, said on Tuesday, March 23, that the government restrictions were done without consultation.
In a new pastoral note on Wednesday, Pabillo said that “we have the experience of one year having our health protocols in place in our churches, and as is experienced by those who come to church, these are well-observed.”
Pabillo said since the Archdiocese of Manila consists of the cities of Manila, Makati, San Juan, Mandaluyong, and Pasay, the parishes will still have the discretion on what restrictions need to be done per situation.
“The parish priests, in consultation with their lay leaders, will decide whether they will have their religious activities, with the people, but not beyond the 10% capacity of their churches, or do them in other forms, on their local conditions,” said Pabillo.
Pabillo reiterated that the faithful is still encouraged to join activities through digital ways.
Guevarra said representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines or CBCP “have expressed their full understanding of the current public health situation.”
From March 22 to April 4, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are under the so-called “NCR Plus” bubble, where no one can go in or out of the big bubble without an essential task. Mobility within the bubble is not restricted, but all mass gatherings are prohibited except for baptisms, weddings, and funeral services that are limited to 10 people.
The Department of Health reported 6,666 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. As cases in the country continue to rise, health officials said cities in Metro Manila are now at “high to critical risk.” – Rappler.com