Filipino Catholics will observe Holy Week this year in not so traditional ways, just like how it was in 2020, due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.
There will be no processions in churches amid the fresh surge of COVID-19 infections, said Fr. Jerome Secillano, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“Most likely, [our Holy Week] this year would just like what we had last year,” Secillano told dzBB in an interview.
“The Church knows that processions attract crowds, so it won’t be held in any part of the Philippines,” he added.
Secillano noted that the government imposed a 30 percent venue capacity limit in religious gatherings in general community quarantine areas until 4 April in a bid to curb coronavirus transmission.
The pandemic task force has given local government units the power to allow higher venue capacity not exceeding 50 percent, based on conditions within their jurisdiction.
“We really need to get cautious and compliant with the rules that would be imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force,” he noted.
Secillano also urged the faithful to observe the most sacred days of the year through online masses.
Aside from processions, other religious rites and practices during Holy Week were suspended by some local government units this year to avoid attracting crowds.
In Manila, all Holy Week activities such as the penitensya (flagellation), carrying of the cross, and Visita Iglesia are prohibited.
Muntinlupa also announced a similar move, except for the conduct of masses. However, churches were asked to maintain 30-percent seating capacity.
In the Dioceses of Cubao and Novaliches, public gatherings for the blessing of the palaspas (palm leaves) on Palm Sunday, as well as the Salubong or welcoming of the risen Christ on Easter Sunday, were prohibited.
Meanwhile, Antipolo City in Rizal also announced that its annual “Alay Lakad” and other Holy Week activities were cancelled this year.
Secillano said churches throughout the country continue to follow health protocols amid the pandemic.
Those intending to enter a church should wear face masks and face shields and observe physical distancing.
In some instances, churches provide face shields for those who want to enter the church, Secillano said.
To ensure social distancing, churches have also lessened the number of Masses held per day and extended the gap between Masses to at least 30 minutes, he added.
The Philippines logged an all-time high of 7,103 new Covid-19 infections on Friday, pushing the nationwide tally to 648,066.
Metro Manila continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic, with over 260,000 cases as of the health department’s latest data.
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