MANILA - The dioceses of Cubao and Novaliches said Sunday they would suspend Holy Week activities and public worship beginning Monday as COVID-19 cases continued to rise in the capital region, officials said Sunday.
Quezon City, where the two dioceses are located, has 8,136 active cases as of Saturday, according to the Department of Health. The figure accounts for 20 percent of the 40,517 active infections in virus epicenter Metro Manila.
The Diocese of Novaliches will reopen on Easter Sunday, April 4, followed by the Diocese of Cubao on April 5.
"Voluntarily closing our places of worship at the highest point of our liturgical year is heartbreaking. But we also open our eyes to a situation that puts many of our faithful at risk," said Cubao bishop Rev. Honesto Ongtioco.
"We urge our people to please stay home and simply follow these activities online. We also urge parish offices to cut down their workforce to half and even restrict the movements of their church personnel to church building and grounds only," said Novaliches bishop Roberto Gaa.
The physical gathering for “pabasa” or the reading of the passion of Christ, “penitentia” and crucifixion will also be prohibited, said Novaliches Vicar General Fr. Tony Labiao Jr.
“The same as last year. We don’t allow people inside the church. Mahirap yung maglalabas ang mga tao. Ang purpose of the lockdown is for people to stay at home and reduce outside activities,” he said.
“Even ang staff namin only 50 percent are allowed to report to our offices.”
On-site activities will resume on Easter Sunday, April 4, observing a 30-percent venue capacity limit.
“Nadisrupt ang ating normal way of life, lalo sa religious and spiritual aspect ng buhay (Our normal way of life was disrupted, especially its religious and spiritual aspect). This is a sacrifice we have to make. But we know God will not abandon us. He is a God who understands all the events in our life,” Labiao said.
"Let’s just continue to pray in a special way and continue to thank the Lord for giving us life. Keep up the faith. Stay safe."
--Report from Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News