MANILA - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said Wednesday it would not turn away people who may want to go to church during the Holy Week despite quarantine restrictions.
At the same time, the bishops' assembly is not encouraging the public to attend church events to prevent the spread of COVID-19, said Jerome Secillano, CBCP public affairs committee executive secretary.
"We are going to celebrate our liturgies because it's the Holy Week. Hindi naman namin ine-encourage na pumasok ang mga tao. However, kapag may taong kumatok, hindi naman namin puwedeng sabihin sa kanila na hindi kayo puwede pumasok," he told ANC.
"There's a possibility na puwede silang i-allow (they will be allowed)... Maybe people can stay outside in order for them to attend the Mass para hindi kami lumabag sa IATF protocols," he added.
This, after Malacañang warned churches of possibly being closed down if they insist on holding religious activities for the Holy Week despite tighter restrictions in place in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite, the zone so-called the NCR Plus bubble where extra measures were enforced amid the surge in infections.
The Archdiocese of Manila has announced it would hold worship at 10 percent church capacity starting Wednesday, March 24.
However, Secillano clarified they would not be defying government orders, just making preparations that people may visit the church for spiritual sustenance.
While he respects government restrictions, he said the ban on religious gatherings for 2 weeks within the bubble was "unreasonable."
"Well, on my part, it's quite unreasonable kasi kung titingnan mo 'yong policy, magbibigay ka nga ng 10 persons sa baptism, sa wedding, sa funeral Masses. Kapag ang misa na ang pag-uusapan natin dito, bakit totally wala?" he said.
(Well, on my part, it's quite unreasonable because if you look at the policy, you allow 10 persons for baptisms, weddings, funeral Masses. But when it comes to Masses, why is there totally none?)
Secillano, also the parish priest of Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro in Sampaloc, Manila, urged the government to "rethink" its policies.
"There should be a rational approach to formulate a strategy. However, at the rate things of going, mukha yatang irrational ang dating nito, ang daming parang loopholes, ang daming parang inconsistencies (it appears irrational, there seems to be too many loopholes, inconsistencies)," he said.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, earlier expressed dismay about the government's latest anti-virus curbs. This coincides with Holy Week, the most important week on the Christian liturgical calendar.
"In spite of our adherence to strict protocol you lock down our churches during the holiest time of the year and allow 70 percent capacity in fitness centers and 50 percent in establishments for personal care services, including spas?!!! All right. May god have mercy on your souls!" he wrote on Facebook.