MANILA - The Catholic Church will continue to livestream Mass in the Philippines even as Metro Manila mayors ease restrictions on religious gatherings, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said Friday.
Mayors in the National Capital Region earlier said churches may allow up to 50 percent seating capacity in their sanctuaries subject to the approval of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19.
"Yang online masses na yan palagay hindi lang yan sa kasagsagan ng pandemic gagawin and even beyond meron na talaga tayong online masses kasi meron tayong need,” Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the Committee on Public Affairs of the CBCP, said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Online Masses are something that will happen even beyond the pandemic.)
He said majority of those who attend online Masses are the elderly and those with comorbidities who are advised to stay at home during the pandemic.
Secillano said churches will continue to strictly implement health and safety protocols like requiring devotees to wear face mask and face shields while in the church to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Kinukuha pa rin ang body temperature ng mga nagsisimba and of course, yung contact tracing napakalahaga din and then may mga foot bath pa yan. Dati na rin ginagawa namin wala munang hawakan ng kamay, pagpunas-punas sa mga imahen—the usual things hindi naman magbabago mananatili na yan,," he said.
(We still get the body temperature of those attending church serive and contact tracing is also very important, and we also have foot bath in place. Like in the past, we don't allow holding hands and wiping of cloth on religious images--the usual things that we do and that will not change.)
Last year, Secillano said the government also allowed religious gatherings at 50 percent. Traditional church events like the Simbang Gabi and the Quiapo Church which drew crowds were celebrated without report of virus transmission among devotees.
“Last December, nakita natin sa simbang gabi, napakaraming tao nyan pero wala naman tayong napabalita na merong na-infect galing sa simbahan, at least sa pagkakaalam ko. And then nagdiwang din tayo ng Fiesta ng Quiapo, dagsaan din ang tao sa Quiapo Church pero wala din tayong nabalitaan na merong mga kaso ng coronavirus sa mga fiestang ito,” he said.
(Last December ,at the Simbang Gabi, we got no report of virus transmission coming from the church, as far as I know, the same goes for the feast of Quiapo Church.)
He said this only shows how serious the church is when it comes to implementing health protocols to protect devotees.