MANILA – The Archdiocese of Manila on Wednesday said it is letting parish priests decide if they will allow the faithful to pray inside their churches at 10-percent capacity.
“The parish priests, in consultation with their lay leaders, will decide whether they will have their religious activities, with the people, but not beyond the 10-percent capacity of their churches, or do them in other forms, depending on their local conditions,” Apostolic Administrator of Manila Bishop Broderick Pabillo said in a statement.
He said parishes can make their own decision based on existing situations.
“In the Church, we follow the principle of subsidiarity, which means that the decisions are ultimately done on the ground by the parishes. We do not believe in unnecessary centralization. Instructions are given as guidance for those in the parishes to make decisions,” the Catholic bishop added.
He added that the parishes under the archdiocese, which consists of the cities of Manila, Manila, Makati, San Juan, Mandaluyong, and Pasay, have different local conditions.
“Our priests are well-oriented that the supreme law in the church is SALUS ANIMARUM, the salvation of the people. I am confident that their decisions are animated by this principle.”
He, however, said allowing the faithful inside churches at 10-percent capacity is not considered a mass gathering.
“We come to this limit of 10 percent of our church physical capacity because we feel that this number does not constitute a mass gathering. We have the experience of one year of having our health protocols in place in our churches, and as is experienced by those who come to church, these are well observed. Our priests and church volunteers are well aware of their responsibilities and they do them well,” he added.
The 10-percent capacity rule for parishes under the archdiocese is included in a pastoral instruction issued by Pabillo for the observance of Holy Week.
This came despite the directive of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) suspending mass gatherings, including religious activities, in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, known as ‘NCR Plus’ from March 22 to April 4 to curb the surge in coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, the Jesus Is Lord (JIL) has announced that there will no face-to-face gatherings in all of their chapters in the ‘NCR Plus’ which is currently under general community quarantine.
It, however, advised its members to attend activities streamed on various media platforms.
“Let us all be responsible citizens and cooperate with the government’s efforts to fight the virus through the observance of standard health protocols. More importantly, let us hold fast to our God who promised to never leave us nor forsake us. Invoking the blood of Jesus to keep us from all harm,” the religious group added. (PNA)