THE Archdiocese of Manila, one of the country’s largest archdioceses, hinted at the possibility of halting “public gatherings” in its parishes if the coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) situation worsens.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Manila’s apostolic administrator, did not specify such gatherings but urged their parishes “to be prepared for any eventuality.”
“Worst case scenario would be the suspension of public gatherings,” he said in a pastoral letter issued March 9.
Meanwhile, Pabillo exhorted the public to stop fomenting panic and fear.
“Let our attitude be compassion and care for others. Thus we need to take precautionary measures in the spirit of charity for all,” he said.
The cancellation of public Masses was among the measures taken in Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy and in some dioceses in Japan to stem the spread of the virus.
The bishop also called on the archdiocese’s more than 80 parishes to brace for the “economic effects” of the health crisis.
“We need to save at this time of impending crisis. Let us make our church institutions resilient. What we can save, let us put in a Disaster Resiliency Fund. In this way, in case we have no collections, we may sustain the salaries of our employees and maintain our religious institutions,” he said.
And with all the precautionary measures to be adopted, Pabillo stressed that they must be all accompanied by prayers.
“We encourage all to intensify our prayers to ask for Divine protection and intervention. Faith can avert evil,” he said.
In the Cubao diocese, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral stopped the holding of barangay stations of the cross and the “senakulo” this coming Holy Week.
The parish’s pastoral council said the decision was made to ensure the safety of its parishioners amid the increasing cases of coronavirus in Metro Manila.
Its scheduled Lenten recollection and regular activities like their monthly formation programs have also been postponed indefinitely.
“We continue to ask the mercy of the Lord to end this epidemic,” Fr. Dennis Soriano, rector of the Cubao cathedral, said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has already declared a state of public health emergency as cases of coronavirus in the country jumped to 33 as of Tuesday.