Masses with no attendees may be held in cemeteries on Undas
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Catholic Church may hold Masses inside the cemeteries in Cebu City during the All Souls’ Day despite that the public is prohibited from visiting the tombs of their loved as part of the measures against the coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, in his homily during the Fiesta Mass in Danao City on Monday, September 21, 2020, said he asked Mayor Edgardo Labella to allow the holding of a Mass in the cemeteries on All Souls’ Day even without the attending public.
The only ones who will be present in the Mass at the cemeteries, Palma said, are the officiating priests and the acolytes.
Palma said Labella has already given them permission as long as there will be no other attendees for the Mass celebration.
For the parishes outside of Cebu City, the archbishop said the decision if the priests and acolytes will be allowed to hold a mass without attendees in cemeteries will still be up to the respective local chief executives.
The archbishop has called on Catholics to heed the government’s call in not visiting the cemeteries during the observation of All Saints and All Souls’ days, including on October 31, and cooperate in the efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Palma echoed the apprehensions of authorities that it would be difficult to implement the health protocols, specifically physical distancing if a throng of people would go to the cemeteries for the All Souls’ Day traditions similar to experiences in the past years.
“Kung mahimo nga kitang mga sumusunod, we should not insist to go to the cemeteries… Sayod kita nga if we open the cemeteries, dili gyud mahimo ang social distancing,” Palma said.
(As much as possible, as followers [of the Church], we should not insist to go to the cemeteries… We know well that if we open the cemeteries, we cannot comply with the social distancing requirement.)
Palma advised the members of the Church to instead offer the prayers for their departed loved ones during the nine-day Masses that the parishes will hold specifically for the souls.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier urged the public to view the “Undas” season with more understanding and prudence, noting that visiting the dearly departed is not an obligation.
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