Manila Archdiocese’s apostolic administrator, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, has tested positive for Covid-19, making him the most prominent churchman in the Philippines to contract the disease. The prelate made the announcement on July 23 following confirmation from swab and laboratory results. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purposes (Rom 8:28
). So, we know that in whatever happens, God’s love is always with us. It is in this spirit that I announce that I have tested positive for Covid-19,” Bishop Pabillo said in a letter to clergymen in the archdiocese. Bishop Pabillo said his results were confirmed by medical experts and that he was now undergoing mandatory self-isolation. “Although I do not feel anything, I’m following the protocol that is set. I am now in a designated area for quarantine and observing strict protocol as required,” Bishop Pabillo said in his letter.
He also said that his condition was being monitored and that he was advised to take vitamins and to exercise regularly. Bishop Pabillo said that although he tested positive for the virus, his staff had tested negative. He had also informed everyone with whom he had contact to observe precautionary measures. “I know this virus will pass, so please do not worry about me, although prayers would be very much appreciated. Since I am my normal self, thank God, the scheduled online meetings that we have set will continue,” Bishop Pabillo added. Bishop Pabillo is considered one of the Philippines’ most active bishops. In February, Pope Francis appointed him apostolic administrator of Manila Archdiocese after Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle left for Rome to take up his duties as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Bishop Pabillo is also known for his active involvement in the Philippine Church’s response to social issues and has been a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration. On June 20, Bishop Pabillo defended a pastoral letter released by the bishops’ conference criticizing a new anti-terrorism law that many believe will lead to rights abuses. He also challenged the Duterte government to sue the bishops after Duterte’s lawyer Salvador Panelo accused them of violating the constitution regarding the separation of church and state. He said clergymen were not divested of their political and civil rights to express themselves. Panelo, however, shrugged off the challenge. “It is amusing and disturbing to witness a bishop dare or pose a challenge to the government to file a case against them. The manner in which it was hurled seemed to demonstrate hubris and hate on his part,” the lawyer said in a statement.
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