Bishop Patricio Buzon of the Diocese of Bacolod in the central Philippines appealed to local authorities to shorten curfew hours ahead of Christmas to allow the observance of the traditional “Simbang Gabi.”
On November 12, the prelate sent a letter to Mayor Evelio Leonardia to ask for a revision of the city’s curfew hours from between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. to between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
The city of Bacolod has declared a curfew after the number of cases of the new coronavirus disease continued to rise.
As of November 18, a total of 5,177 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 has been reported in the city with 153 deaths.
The Philippines has set curfew hours as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the disease.
Bishop Buzon, however, said the shortening of curfew hours will help the diocese offer more early morning Masses to accommodate churchgoers and prevent overcrowding in churches.
He said that if curfew hours would be adjusted, the diocese can schedule two Masses, with the first Mass at 3:30 a.m. and another at 5 a.m.
“The diocese believes that in this difficult time, our people need more than ever the Christmas spirit and the Yuletide cheer,” said the bishop in his letter.
The presidential palace this week said local governments can adjust curfew hours so their constituents can attend the traditional pre-dawn Masses for Christmas.
The Archdiocese of Manila has earlier issued instructions on the celebration of the Advent season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A circular prepared by the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission urged priests to hold Masses in the evening as early as 6 p.m. and for the morning, at 6 a.m.
Parishes are also urged to schedule more “Simbang Gabi” Masses in different venues to reduce the number of churchgoers.