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Catholic dioceses struggle to financially cope with pandemic

Recovery from the impact of the health crisis in many parishes has been "slow" because of the prohibition of mass gatherings

Catholic dioceses in the Philippines have been struggling to financially cope with the pandemic as most parishes in the country have been hardly hit by the health crisis.

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao admitted that the recovery from the impact of the crisis in many parishes has been “slow” because it was only recently that religious gatherings are allowed.

“Since the lockdown on March 15, we have no collections,” said the prelate. “Only in recent weeks did we start with 30 percent capacity accommodations,” he added.

The bishop said people are not yet going back to attend services in churches. “It’s not being filled up. Many are still afraid (to go out), that’s why the recovery is slow,” he said.

“We appeal to our parishioners because for some many months there is no collection and we have been supporting our church workers even if they do not report for work,” said Bishop Ongtioco.

He said even as the workers are not coming back to work full time, they still have to be paid and the payment of the “13th month pay” is mandatory.

In the Archdiocese of Manila, the pandemic has also affected the ordination of new priests.

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Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the archdiocese, said that aside from the pandemic Manila has also no bishop until now.

There was also ordination in the Diocese of Malolos when Bishop Ongtioco served as apostolic administrator of the diocese in May 2018 following the death of Bishop Jose Oliveros.

“I did not have any priestly ordinations when I was apostolic administrator of Bulacan. We had to wait for the regular bishop to be appointed,” said Bishop Ongtioco.

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