Officials of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, commonly known as the Quiapo Church, will follow the decision of the government prohibiting in-person Masses at the basilica during the celebration of its feast this weekend.
“We are complying because of the health situation,” Quiapo Church rector, Monsignor Hernando Coronel, said in an interview on Wednesday.
This came as the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, in a resolution, ordered the temporary closure of the church from January 7 to 9, as Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 3 due to soaring coronavirus infections.
“We are once more in another surge. We pray for an end to this pandemic. For those who passed away, we commend them to the mercy of the Nazareno. For those who are sick, a fast recovery. For those affected by economic hardships, help from a concerned community. For those affected by Typhoon Odette, compassion from those more blessed in life. We continue responding in faith and charity as long as this pandemic persists,” Coronel said.
Meanwhile, Rev. Fr. Danichi Hui, parochial vicar of the basilica, admitted that they were saddened by the government’s decision not to open the Quiapo Church to the public for three days.
“We have planned this event six months ago. We have prepared and (we) did all the necessary protocols in order for us to celebrate the Feast Day of the Nazareno safely. There were also coordination with the police and other government agencies, approval from our LGU (local government unit),” Hui said in a separate interview.
However, he said, they would heed the government’s call, citing that the church has a moral obligation and social responsibility to help contain the pandemic.
“We will cooperate with them and even offer our help in case they do not have plans yet to organize our faithful. But we are confident that they know what they are doing and rely on them on disseminating the info that we will close our Church and that there will be no congregation during the Fiesta,” Hui said.
On the other hand, Fr. Douglas Badong, Quiapo Church parochial vicar, appealed for the understanding of the devotees.
“To the devotees, let us try to broaden the understanding. Let us meditate, let us pray on what is the message of the Lord Nazarene in our situation. Just be careful when we go out. We know the situation, what you will face when you go around Quiapo,” he said in a virtual press briefing.
Badong, however, said the church would reopen after January 9 at 30 percent seating capacity.
“Even if we can’t celebrate on January 7, 8, 9, then we will celebrate on the 10th. There will be Masses,” he said.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año agreed with the decision of the church to postpone the “Traslacion” this year and hold an online Mass.
“Meron na kasing coordination with the church. Pumayag din naman yung church na because of the surge and the Omicron variant ay online Mass na lang muna ang gagawin at canceled yung mga face-to-face activities, including yung prosesyon saka yung tinatawag na pahalik, wala na muna ngayon, yung face-to-face Mass (There has been coordination with the church. The church also agreed that because of the surge and the Omicron variant, only online Mass will be held first and the face-to-face activities, including the procession, the ‘pahalik’, and the face-to-face Mass, would be canceled),” he told reporters in a phone interview when sought for a comment.
The annual Traslacion or procession for the Feast of the Black Nazarene was supposed to be held on Friday.
“We will put checkpoints so that the people who don’t have face-to-face activities can understand and they will not proceed to Quiapo, because normally about 8 (million) to 12 million people go there traditionally. Now because we have an Omicron variant, we have a surge, it will be a tsunami, it’s not just a surge when you allow it. Our devotees can understand),” Año said when asked regarding the measures to be implemented if some devotees insist on pushing through with the pre-pandemic way of celebrating of the feast.
Source: Philippines News Agency