Jaro archdiocese cancels public, congregational gatherings

Public celebrations and congregational gatherings by Catholic faithful from parishes covered by the Archdiocese of Jaro are canceled effective March 18 until further notice.

The cancelation was part of the guidelines released by the archdiocese in a press conference on Monday in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Together with the expertise of our health professionals and government efforts, we respond to this pandemic in faith, which we express in prayer and action both personal and communal,” said Jaro Archbishop Jose Romeo Lazo in a statement read by Fr. Joenick Teritorio, chancellor of the Archdiocese.

The Jaro Archbishop is currently undergoing self-quarantine following his recent trip to Manila. He is considered a person under monitoring (PUM).

Included in the cancelations are weekday and Sunday masses.

However, priests should celebrate mass in their private capacity and offer them for the intention of the “cessation of the spread of the virus, for the sick and the safety of our health workers”, the guidelines added.

The public is encouraged to participate in Eucharistic celebrations that are streamed on social media or broadcast live over radio stations.

“In principle, it is canceled. However, there are peculiarities, special situations based on the need of the people, the parish priest will decide. If he cannot decide, he will call the archbishop and the archbishop will advise him. But that is an exemption,” Teritorio said.

Meanwhile, the holding of regular baptism and marriages will be rescheduled. However, if the sacrament of confession is “extremely” needed and if the marriage has to proceed as scheduled, they are advised to follow strict health protocols.

Those who are “extremely in need of the sacrament of confession" may approach any parish priest while priests have to “respond generously and with urgency to the spiritual needs of the sick and dying" but should follow the protocols set by the local government unit and the Department of Health (DOH).

The attendance of funeral mass has to be limited within the family members and if possible mass should be at home.

The archdiocese will soon be coming up with specific guidelines for the Lenten Season although it was emphasized that “all activities are canceled in principle”.

“We will look for some alternative, liturgically sound alternative for our people during this extraordinary situation,” the chancellor added.

The faithful are called on to “strengthen their faith” and pray daily the family rosary, Litany of the Saints, Devotion to San Roque and Oratio Imperata against Covid-19.

They are also asked to observe forms of penance such as fasting, alms-giving, and abstinence this Lenten Season.

The parishes are advised to observe routine sanitation of pews, furniture and other frequently touched objects inside the church.

Source: Philippines News Agency