MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday advised a Catholic prelate to stop influencing the faithful to ignore the strict health protocols by the government to curb the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The statement was issued after Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo announced that the Archdiocese of Manila will resume on March 24 its religious services at “10 percent” of the church capacity.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque lamented that Pabillo seems to be encouraging the faithful to defy the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF-EID) pandemic control measures.
“That will be contrary po to the decision of the IATF and we ask Bishop Pabillo not to encourage disregard of IATF rules. Ito naman po ay para sa kabutihan ng lahat (This is for our own good),” Roque said. “So, I hope the Bishop will not encourage noncompliance po with this IATF decision.”
The IATF-EID has been forced to prohibit religious gatherings in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, and Rizal until April 4 to stop the further transmission of Covid-19.
The latest directive came ahead of the country’s observance of Holy Week from March 28 to April 3.
Pabillo, in a pastoral letter issued Tuesday, said there would be “no religious activity outside of our churches such as senakulo (passion play), pabasa (chanting or singing of the Passion of Christ), processions, motorcades, and visita iglesia.”
He, however, said there will be religious worship starting March 24 “within 10 percent of our maximum church capacity.”
The Archdiocese of Manila covers the cities of Manila, Pasay, Makati, Mandaluyong, and San Juan.
Roque said the faithful can still observe Holy Week in the comforts of their homes.
Should the prelates refuse to follow the strict health protocols, the government might be compelled to order the closure of churches, Roque cautioned.
“Ang defiance po ng (The defiance of) IATF resolution is not covered by separation of church and state. What is covered is the freedom to believe and the freedom not to endorse a religion. Pero (But) in the exercise of police powers, we can order the churches closed. Huwag sana pong dumating doon, Bishop Pabillo (We do not want to reach that point, Bishop Pabillo),” he said. (PNA)