Manila (Agenzia fides) - The Archdiocese of Manila has submitted the request to reopen churches and resume celebrating masses with the faithful to the government, whilst keeping in place all the precautions needed to contain the coronavirus. As stated in a note sent by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Manila, the churches would limit the number of people present, ensure physical distancing and hygiene measures such as wearing face masks and hand sanitation. "People need religious celebrations for their resilience", in this critical situation, the bishop says in the note sent to Fides. Mgr. Pabillo adds that parishes are willing to coordinate with local government units to ensure that security measures are strictly implemented. "The government could send personnel to various neighborhoods to see if we are able to observe the protocols", he said, while the national government extended the lockdown period for the Metro Manila region, Laguna City and Cebu until May 31.
During this period, the Archdiocese of Manila has given orders to parishes to minimize sacramental life throughout 2020, also for "special moments". These are "temporary changes due to the extraordinary situation", set with Guidelines published in recent days. As the Guidelines state, crowds of faithful in Catholic churches will not be admitted to marriages, but only in the presence of the spouses and closest family members; for baptisms, only parents and godparents will be admitted. Parishes are encouraged to increase the frequency and times of baptismal celebrations in order to decongest churches. Even funerals will also have a limited frequency since only the family of the deceased will be authorized to participate in the funeral mass.
These measures are combined with the strengthening of online broadcasts and direct streaming, which will allow virtual participation in liturgical celebrations for all the faithful who want it.
In the post-block scenario due to the containment of the coronavirus, the Archdiocese of Manila will continue to strengthen the ministry of mass media communication in the Church: this is what Fides learns from a circular letter in which Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Manila, declares : "The media apostolate is important and will play a greater role in the life of the Church from now on". The letter highlights the significant contribution of the media ministry in each parish and religious institution during the time of the pandemic and urges the parishes and communities to "create a good pastoral service with social media".
"Parishes that have a well-developed social media ministry are able to reach the faithful easily. Many of our elders will hesitate to go to church in the coming months, and social distancing cannot be easily respected in our churches because we do not have many churches: online services will remain very valuable", he adds, stating that "the coronavirus epidemic has allowed the Church to take greater account of the apostolate with mass media". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 13/5/2020)