For the past three months, the Archdiocese of Cebu has been actively responding to the needs of the faithful as they continue to face the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu said the archdiocese has been working with local government officials and medical professionals in reaching out to people.
“We have a population of about five million with some 400 diocesan and 225 religious priests attending to some 165 parishes,” said the prelate in an interview with LiCAS.news.
“At first, I felt sad seeing our churches, our beautiful cultural heritage churches, with very few people attending Masses,” said Archbishop Palma.
“However, I realized hundreds, if not thousands, participate in our celebrations uploaded on different social media platforms,” added the 70-year old prelate.
Asked how the archdiocese helped those in need, the archbishop said he has asked priests to spend funds on food and other requirements of the poor in their respective areas.
“We have activated our [social action arm] to think of ways to help poor parishes, to recalibrate their programs on improving livelihood to survival and revival,” he said.
He acknowledged the active support of the Council of the Laity who visited and supported poor priests and parishes across one of the country’s most populous provinces.
Archbishop Palma said that during the early days of the pandemic, church people distributed face masks and other basic needs to jails and detention facilities in the province.
The prelate said he is more concerned about the plight of students in government-run schools than the Catholic schools that were even able to help poor communities through relief distribution projects.
The prelate remains optimistic his archdiocese would get over the challenges posed by the pandemic quoting Pope Francis who said the spread of COVID-19 calls for “justice, charity and solidarity.”
The archdiocese has given the Department of Health access to the 14,000-seat venue of the International Eucharistic Congress to serve as quarantine area.