Catholic bishops in the Philippines have issued pastoral letters telling elderly parishioners to make sacrifices by staying at home when churches reopen after June 15. The letters were issued after the government announced on June 10 that President Rodrigo Duterte may soon allow religious gatherings subject to social distancing rules. “My dear elderly parish volunteers, even as we appreciate your willingness and good intention to serve, please make this sacrifice not to serve in liturgical services until this pandemic is over,” said Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Manila’s apostolic administrator. Bishop Pabillo said the move was temporary due to the “hidden enemy” that continued to linger in public places such as churches. “The time will surely come when you [the elderly] may again be able to come and serve, which we hope and pray will be soon,” said the pastoral letter.
Bishop Pabillo also appealed for young volunteers to serve on behalf of elderly ministers to help give communion to the sick in their homes. “We sorely need younger volunteers. I would appeal to our elderly parish volunteers that if you truly love your parish, you will recruit one or two young volunteers to take your place in the church,” said the prelate. Bishop Pabillo encouraged youths to join the health and sanitization ministry in charge of disinfecting altar vessels and church premises, according to new liturgical guidelines issued by the bishops’ conference. Meanwhile, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga reminded churchgoers of quarantine rules, also saying senior citizens [60 years old and above] should remain at home during the pandemic. “To stay at home is to make us safe from being contaminated or contaminating someone else. Coronavirus is our enemy that we cannot see. It thrives and hides in the crowd,” said Bishop Santos in his pastoral letter. Bishop Santos told elderly churchgoers to stay at home even if government restrictions were lifted in provinces outside Metro Manila. He cited the continuous rise of Covid-19 and a lack of mass testing in Philippine medical facilities. “God understands our situation and accepts our predicaments. He sympathizes with us. He always does something for our own good and safety. With God’s mercy, he excuses us from attending Sunday Masses,” he said in his pastoral letter. Bishop Santos also asked for patience as many may insist on attending Mass and other liturgical celebrations despite quarantine restrictions. “Patience is your [the elderly] most lived virtue. Now, with this stay at home, your patience is being asked from you,” said the prelate. As of June 14, the Philippines had recorded 25,930 Covid-19 cases with 1,088 deaths. Eighty-three percent of the fatalities were people aged 60 and above, according to government figures.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...