05/05/2020, 16.50
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More and more Catholics want churches to reopen in the Philippines

Lockdown and social distancing measures to fight the pandemic have been in place for two months. The government has eased some of them, but religious services and places of worship are still off limits. For Bishop Pabillo, Masses and religious celebrations are "essential services;” religion is very important for people.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) – After nearly two months in lockdown and social distancing, calls are mounting for the government to allow church services. Catholics want to go to Mass and receive communion, whilst keeping in place all the precautions needed to contain the coronavirus.

A ceremony consecrating the Philippines to the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be held on 13 May, so that the month the Church dedicates to the Mother of Jesus may help the country and the world overcome the global pandemic.

For Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of Manila, religious celebrations should also be considered “essential services” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, “when the decision makers consider the essential services to be allowed, they should also consider the opening of the churches and its services as important”.

Religion is very important to many Filipinos for it gives them strength, especially when faced with hardships. Proof of this is that one of the things that people try to save first in times of disaster are their religious images and Bibles.

Fr Elias Ayuban, superior of the Claretian congregation in the Philippines, also wants to see churches reopen, particularly in dioceses with no COVID-19 cases.

Going to the market is allowed, he noted, where physical distancing is hard to implement, but going to church is not. In his view, “It is about time to reopen the doors of our churches for people to pray.”

Philippine authorities have recently eased some of their restrictive measures, but the ban on places of worship and religious services has been kept.

So far, more than 9,600 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Philippines with just under 650 deaths.

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