Religious sects told: Suspend congregational activities
Cebu City government reminds religious groups about COVID-19 measures
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Cebu City government reminds the religious sectors in Cebu to suspend activities drawing the public together such as congregational worship.
This is in response to a viral video of parishioners in a city barangay holding a procession. In the video, a small group of at least 10 parishioners walked around the barangay to pray amid the spread of the coronavirus.
The group also practiced social distancing as they moved around the barangay to remind the public on how to combat the spread of the disease.
Still, the Cebu City government frowned upon the “well-intended” activity.
City Legal Officer Rey Gealon said that pursuant to the executive order of Mayor Edgardo Labella over the prohibition of public events, religious and other activities are included.
Arts, entertainment, recreational activities are prohibited during the effectivity of General Community Quarantine of the city.
“In fact, the Catholic Church, among other religions, congregations and sects, have already called upon the faithful to just stay at home and hear online Masses and sermons. Any violation of the provision of the Executive Order will be dealt with accordingly,” said Gealon.
He encouraged all religious sectors to avoid gathering its members as a mitigating measure against the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-29).
However, he said the city would not be filing administrative charges against any religious sect who would be found violating the no-public-gathering prohibitions, although the city was allowed to disperse people from such activities.
Instead, the city will call the attention of the religious sect’s leader for proper sanction of its members.
“With all due respect, much as we want to profess our deep faith in God, the procession which was caught on video and made rounds on social media must not have been conducted. Based on the Holy Scripture, quarantine was practiced in times of plague and crisis. Isaiah 26:20 — ‘Go home, my people, and lock your doors! Hide yourselves for a little while until the Lord’s anger has passed’,” said Gealon.
The Archdiocese of Cebu has already suspended all forms of gatherings amidst the Covid-19 outbreak. Archbishop Jose Palma particularly suspended congressional celebration of masses and other activities such as dawn rosaries and processions.
The Vatican has also released the guidelines for celebrating the Lenten Holy Week from April 5 to 12, 2020.
Vatican said in their recent decree released on the morning of March 21, 2020, (Philippine Standard Time), that the Easter Sunday cannot be transferred to another date, but the Chrism Mass may be moved on a later date as directed by the Archbishops of the dioceses.
The Holy Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday may be celebrated by the priests and broadcasted online, but with the omission of the washing of the feet and the procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
Same goes for Good Friday, as only churches where it is possible to gather are allowed to celebrate the Passion of the Lord with the faithful.
The Easter Masses may be celebrated only in Cathedrals, and only if it is possible for the Cathedral to do so following the restrictions of governments amidst COVID-19.
Expressions of popular piety and processions may be moved to September 14 and 15, 2020, depending on the decision of the bishop or archbishop./dbs
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