Cebu archdiocese suspends public Masses amid COVID-19 pandemic

Erik Tenedero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 17 2020 06:39 PM

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. File photo from Arnold Carl Fernan Sancover, Creative Commons

MANILA - The Archdiocese of Cebu has suspended all public Masses amid rising cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. 

In a circular released on Tuesday, Archbishop Jose Palma said celebration of Holy Masses with a large congregation is suspended until further notice. 

However, the prelate clarified that this does not mean total suspension of all Masses in the province. 

“We abide by the CBCP Circular stipulating that we should continue to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and Holy Week services even in the absence of a congregation,” Palma said. 

Earlier, bishops whose jurisdiction cover Metro Manila have suspended public Masses as the government imposed community quarantine in the capital region. 

Palma is also urging parishes across the archdiocese to make use of technology to bring the Holy Mass to people, especially those who are under community quarantine. 

“Since our faithful are advised to stay home, parishes are to initiate the full use of social media and the internet in streaming live the Eucharistic celebrations and other religious events,” said the archbishop. 

“Our faithful can also avail of the televised Holy Masses, which will be broadcast live in different networks especially on Sundays. Our radio stations are also alternative means of hearing Holy Masses.”

Palma assured Cebuanos that “during this difficult times” they are not morally obliged to physically attend Masses and other liturgical celebrations as he already issued a dispensation to such obligation. 

The archdiocese also advised that weddings and baptism be deferred. But in cases when “further delay is disadvantageous and impractical,” the priest may administer the sacrament with limited people attending the event while making sure that social distancing is observed.

Meanwhile, Palma said there is a “greater possibility” that Holy Week liturgies will also be conducted without the presence of the congregation. 

“Again we show our initiative and creativity in making use of the digital and virtual technology within our means so that our faithful are not deprived of their desire to have a meaningful observance of these sacred days,” the prelate added. 

The provincial government of Cebu earlier announced that it will close its border from the rest of the country for 30 days, with the exception of cargo delivery. This as the local government pushed for measures to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

As of writing, the Philippines has a total of 187 COVID-19 cases with 12 deaths. 

President Rodrigo Duterte already declared a state of calamity for the entire country. 

Below is the copy of the Archdiocese of Cebu’s circular on COVID-19: