Several Catholic bishops in the Philippines called on the faithful to attend church activities in person, especially during the Holy Week, following a decline in Covid-19 cases in the country.
Bishop Roberto Gaa of Novaliches said people should go back to church, although he said Church leaders are still to decide whether to lift the dispensation for those who cannot attend church activities in person.
“There are those who cannot attend because they are still affected by the pandemic … especially those who decided not to get vaccinated against the virus,” he said.
“For us na to not discriminate against them, we continue to make online Mass,” said Bishop Gaa over Church-run Radio Veritas 846.
He said that through the online platform, the Church was able to reach out to the faithful.
“For me, why deprive them that relationship that we already built while in fact it has been effective,” said the bishop.
In the Diocese of Imus, Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista said that with the decline of Covid-19 cases the faithful can now go back to church.
“The faithful are enjoined to be physically present and actively participate in all Sunday Eucharistic Celebrations, while still observing minimum health protocols,” said the prelate in a circular released this week.
Earlier, Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila urged parishes under the archdiocese to review the frequency of the livestreaming of the celebration of the Holy Mass.
In a circular released on March 16, the prelate reminded parishes of the “constant catechesis on the necessity of our faithful to return to our churches for the Sunday Eucharist.”
Cardinal Advincula cited the October 14, 2022, circular of the Philippine bishops’ conference saying that “circumstances permit and oblige us to return to the normality of Christian life” following the pandemic.
The bishops reminded the faithful that the Church building is “home to the celebration of the liturgy, especially the Eucharist, as ‘the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed.’”
Cardinal Advincula called on the faithful in Manila “to return to the Sunday Eucharist with renewed amazement and devotion.”
Aside from the review of the frequency of online Masses, the cardinal encouraged communities to continue with the implementation of health protocols such as the wearing of masks during religious gatherings.
He also reminded priests and liturgists that the “Act of Spiritual Communion” should not be prayed aloud when communion is distributed to the faithful because it is only intended for those who are following the celebration online.
He said the holy water fonts, which have been emptied during the pandemic, “can now be used after the Easter Vigil.”
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