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Philippines

Philippine diocese shuts churches due to priest infections

Clergymen in Cagayan de Oro were struck by Covid-19 while celebrating Mass

Philippine diocese shuts churches due to priest infections

A priest officiates at a confirmation ceremony in a parish in Cagayan de Oro. Six churches have been closed in the area after their priests recently contracted Covid-19. (Photo courtesy of Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese)

A diocese in the Mindanao region of the Philippines has been forced to shut down six churches after their priests contracted Covid-19 while celebrating Mass.

Archbishop Jose Cabantan of Cagayan de Oro announced the closures on April 27 in a letter to all priests, religious and parishioners.

He said all religious activities would be suspended in six churches that will remain closed for 10 days from April 28 to May 7.

Archbishop Canbantan said the infections came as a shock as Mindanao is far from the pandemic’s epicenter in Manila.

“The infection of our priests was very unexpected, never thought of, never wished for,” he added.

The six churches will be disinfected while the priests remain in isolation for at least 14 days until cleared by their doctors. Parishioners will also be tested for the virus. 

This is also a way of showing that we are at one with the people, the government and every other person or entity trying to curb the spread of Covid-19

Archbishop Canbantan said he and people working at his residence were also quarantining as a result of the outbreak. 

“This is also a way of showing that we are at one with the people, the government and every other person or entity trying to curb the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

Cagayan de Oro province has the most infections in the Mindanao region. Its case total on April 27 stood at 441, or an average daily increase of nine cases per day, according to government figures.

Archbishop Cabatan believed the priests contracted the virus from infected people while they were celebrating Mass. He said social distancing procedures were in place for the church services.  

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The archbishop called for prayers so that other priests would not be infected and could continue to serve churchgoers in the province.

“I also humbly ask for understanding from our faithful, especially those directly affected, and for prayers for our priests who have fallen victim,” to the virus he said. 

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