A Catholic archbishop in the northern Philippines urged his priests not to let the difficulties brought by the pandemic stop them from reaching out to their flock.
Archbishop Marlo Peralta of Nueva Segovia said the restrictions to contain the surging COVID-19 cases must lead the priests in finding “creative ways” to provide pastoral care to those in need.
“As priests, while we are also afraid of the Covid virus, let us not allow our fears to paralyze us into action, forgetting the people who need us, especially during these times,” Peralta said in a circular dated Sept. 8.
The archbishop particularly asked the priests to find ways to continue to celebrate Mass where needed.
He stressed that as people go through a lot of suffering because of the health crisis, “they always long for the Eucharist as their source of strength.”
“They are always waiting for us to celebrate the Mass for them… Let us not disappoint them,” Archbishop Peralta said.
He also reminded the priests of their obligation to anoint the sick, especially those who are seriously ill and who are at the point of death.
The prelate said priests may simply take cue from health workers who, despite their fears, continue to care for COVID-19 patients with the necessary precautions.
“If these doctors and nurses continue to give health care to COVID-19 patients, all the more reason for us priests to take care of their souls,” Archbishop Peralta added.
“We cannot just make our fear of exposure an excuse to refuse the Anointing of the Sick. Let us be creative to devise ways to secure an added protection for ourselves and those around us,” he added.