March 16, 2020, 10:03AM
There is an appointed time for everything (Excl. 3:1).
To the People of God in Metro Manila:
“There is an appointed time for everything,” (Eccl. 3:1) the Holy Bible says. Let us heed the signs of our time and respond to them appropriately. The government has declared a community quarantine in Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14 to stem the spread of COVID 19.
We bishops of this region met to discuss common pastoral actions in the light of this development We have been guided by fidelity to the faith, service to the people, and the common good of the community. After much discussion and discernment, we have decided on the following points which we will implement in our ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the Archdiocese of Manila, in the dioceses of Cubao, Novaliches, Pasig, Kalookan, Paranaque, parts of both the diocese of Antipolo and Malolos that belong to Metro Manila, and some parts of the Military Vicariate of the Philippines.
1. We will abide by the government’s directive to suspend all large gatherings from March 15 to Apri114. So there will be no celebration of the Holy Mass with a large congregation within this period, plus other religious activities during the Holy Week which usually attract huge crowds of the faithful. We heed the instruction of the CBCP which reads: “We should continue to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and Holy Week liturgical celebrations even in the absence of a congregation. In spite of the fact that our faithful cannot be physically present in the Eucharistic celebration, the crisis gives us the opportunity to unite ourselves with one another in the bond of spiritual communion through the digital technology” (CBCP circular 20-14).
2. The Baptisms, Confirmations, and Weddings scheduled within these dates, which can no longer he postponed due to the enormity of the preparations involved, may push through, but will be subject to severe restrictions as to the number of participants and attendees, and proper social distancing should be observed. All other celebrations of these aforementioned sacraments are to be temporarily deferred.
3. Since the dates for the Metro Manila Community Quarantine will coincide with the last three Sundays of Lent, and Holy Week, it would mean that the liturgical celebrations during those days, including Palm Sunday, the rest of the Holy Week and Easter Sunday will not be open to the public.
4. There will be no public blessing of palms, Visita Iglesia, Siete Palabras, Good Friday procession and Faster Salubong. We encourage the faithful to stay home and follow the said activities on TV, Radio, or online. The faithful are called upon to pray the Rosary as it is a good prayer to meditate on the mysteries of the life of the Lard that we intensely celebrate in the universal Church during the Holy Week.
5. We call for days of penance, prayer, and fasting during all the Fridays of Lent (March 20, 27, and April 3), including Good Friday (April 10). This is our response to the CBCP appeal: “We are enjoining all the Local Ordinaries and the Diocesan Administrators to call for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for all those who are infected with the COVID-19 and those who have died, and for our deliverance from this pandemic” (CBCP circular 20-14).
6. The month-long community quarantine will affect the poor and the daily wage earners heavily. Let our parishes and church institutions, in close coordination with their local government units (LGUs), be creative in going out of their way to help the people in their basic needs. We appeal for donations to help the poor and the sick.
7. Let the bells of our Churches be heard at 12 o’clock noon and 8 o’clock in the evening to call all the faithful to pray the Oratia Imperata together with the praying of the Angelus at noon and the family rosary in the evening. Let us all earnestly nun to the Lord in prayer. Together with the psalmist, let no pray: “I love you, LORD, my strength, LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!” (Ps. 18:2-3)
Our present situation is very fluid. For the moment these are our common actions in our dioceses. Other developments and subsequent instructions may come in the future. Let as all be vigilant. We offer to the Lord the difficulties and uncertainties that confront us in the spirit of Lent, which is the spirit of fervent prayer, penance and generosity. We are assured of Easter. Life will overcome death. This virus will pass us by. We say with St. Paul: “We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts” (Rom. 5:3-5).
Let us entrust ourselves to the maternal care of Mary, Mother of the Afflicted.
Yours truly in Christ:
Most Rev. NOLLY C. BUCO Auxiliary Bishop of Antipolo
Most Rev. PABLO VIRGILIO S. DAVID Bishop of Kalookan
Most Rev. FRANCISCO M. DE LEON Bishop of Antipolo
Most Rev. ROBERTO O. GAA Bishop of Novaliches
Most Rev. BRODERICK S. PABILLO Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila
Most Rev. MYLO HUBERT C. VERGARA Bishop of Pasig
Most Rev. OSCAR L FLORENCIO Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines
Most Rev. JESSE E. MERCADO Bishop of Paranaque
Most Rev. HONESTO F. ONGTIOCO Bishop of Cubao
Most Rev. DENNIS C. VILLAROJO Bishop of Malolos
16 March 2020
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