Three dioceses in Bicol suspend masses to prevent virus spread
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Three dioceses in the Bicol region have suspended all masses starting March 14, Saturday.
These are the Dioceses of Legazpi and Virac and the Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres, whose bishops made separate announcements.
The Archdiocese of Nueva Caceres has suspended masses from March 14 to March 20, 2020.
The masses in the Dioceses of Legazpi and Virac are suspended indefinitely, according to Albay Bishop Joel "Bong" Baylon and Virac Bishop Manolo de los Santos, respectively. In separate statements, they said that the faithful can follow mass on radio and TV.
“The faithful may still offer their intentions through private masses. Priests are to celebrate private masses alone or with a server,” Fr. Allan Basilio, also of the Diocese of Virac, said.
Baylon said that the suspension of masses was a precautionary measure "considering that people are now arriving from Manila." (READ: IN PHOTOS: Mass exodus before Metro Manila 'lockdown')
“We don't know if they are aware of the self-quarantine policy of Albay, thus might still come church thereby putting our faithful at risk. I hereby declare all masses starting this afternoon suspended indefinitely,” Baylon said.
Most Catholic churches in Metro Manila have also suspended masses starting March 14, after the Duterte administration placed the capital region in a "community quarantine" starting midnight of Sunday, March 15. (READ: Manila churches suspend Masses amid coronavirus lockdown)
Baylon also asked the faithful to "continue praying the Oratio Imperata for COVID-19, begging the Lord to save us from this deadly threat."
On Friday, March 13, Baylon issued a Diocesan Circular, asking the clergy, religious, and the faithful to pray, take necessary precautions, and not to panic in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak which the World Health Organization has called a pandemic.
At the Kapihan sa SM City Legazpi with Radio Veritas, Baylon said that the Diocese of Legazpi through the Social Action Center was closely working with the provincial government and health authorities.
This is to ensure that church leaders are updated on the necessary information that will help them craft guidelines in the conduct of church activities and regular worship days, especially during the Lenten Season, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
"As we continue to face this pandemic, let us observe and keep in our minds the 3 P’s: Prayer, Precautions and do not Panic. We continue to pray for the scientists and medical experts who are looking a cure for COVID-19 and ministering to the sick," the prelate said.
"We remember always to pray also for the sick that they may recover their health soon. We pray for government officials especially the health authorities to have the competence, zeal and compassion in dealing with this medical emergency," Baylon added. – Rappler.com