The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has released a new prayer of thanksgiving to replace the prayer of protection it issued three years ago against COVID-19.
Called the “Litany of Gratitude after the COVID-19 pandemic,” it will be said in all Masses between Feb. 11 and Feb. 22, which falls on Ash Wednesday and marks the start of the Lenten season.
The special prayer was approved by church leaders on Jan. 30 during the bishops’ annual plenary assembly, according to CBCP secretary general Msgr. Bernardo Pantin.
It expressed gratitude “for all the blessings and graces we received during the COVID pandemic” and “for allowing us to connect with one another with faith and love, despite the isolation that sickness had imposed on us.”
It also thanked God for “reminding us of the fragility of life, shielding us when no one else dared to shelter us and opening our minds to what is really essential.” It cited as well “the heroic kindness of those who provided us with scientific, social and spiritual help when doing so was both risky and life threatening for them.”
It likewise referred to “the gift of newly discovered medicines and vaccines to combat the virus and the wonder of natural immunity” plus the other “gift of assuring presence, when we were anxious and distressed, depressed and lonely and impatient during the pandemic.”
The new prayer will replace the Oratio Imperata or obligatory prayer for protection against the COVID-19 pandemic issued by the CBCP in January 2020.
The bishops revised the prayer in February 2021 to include a plea for the effectiveness of vaccines against the coronavirus.
Earlier, the new head of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Metro Manila Center for Health Development (MMCHD) expressed optimism that bivalent vaccines would attract more Filipinos to get inoculated or boosted.
“We have done all the strategies that are possible. We have gone to these communities and deployed mobile teams and we will continue to do that,” Director Aleli Sudiacal told reporters on Wednesday.
She said that health authorities should “take advantage of the [high] mobility of more people now, so we can [entice] more people.”
Sudiacal was appointed to the MMCHD post on Jan. 17, replacing Gloria Balboa, who was promoted to health assistant secretary.
Based on the Jan. 31 data of the regional vaccination operations center, 53 percent of the eligible population or 5.37 million people in Metro Manila had availed themselves of first booster shots. However, only about a fifth or 1.16 million of them had gotten boosted a second time.
Sudiacal was hopeful that the rollout of bivalent vaccines would create renewed interest. “Especially if we really trumpet that this bivalent vaccine… will not just address the old variants, [but also] the more recent variants… it will create a demand from the public,” she said.
To make the doses more accessible, these would be made available at barangay health centers with the DOH saying that just like before, health-care workers, the elderly and individuals with comorbidities would be given priority.
“Once additional doses are secured and available, prioritization may be expanded to other priority groups,” it added.
About 1 million Pfizer bivalent vaccines from the COVAX facility’s sharing scheme were expected to arrive in the country by next month, the DOH said.
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