Prelate says church closures should only be last resort Manila Bulletin

Church closures should only be the last resort.

Photo Diocese of Novaliches FB

The Diocese of Novaliches said so in guidelines that were released on Thursday, January 13 amid the surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country.

“In our diocese of Novaliches, closures must be our parish’s last resort, that is, to contain the spread of the virus,” he said.

“This should only be done as a last resort and in response to serious threats to the health and safety of people, especially those living within the confines of the church building itself and its immediate surroundings, and as ordered by the government in accordance with existing LGU protocols on community lockdowns,” he added.

Before placing a parish church under confinement, the pastor or the administrator of the parish must inform and even seek advice from the bishop and/or in his absence, from the vicar general for administration, or from the vicar forane for a good pastoral treatment, validation and official communication.

Unless requested or ordered by the government, the diocese said “no general diocesan lockdown should henceforth be expected”.

“This inasmuch as not all parishes are located exactly the same but rather and in fact differently,” he said.

The diocese said unless ordered by the government, parishes should remain open even if only partially, all at the service of the people.

He added that on-site Masses can be more strictly regulated, their number per day even limited and church attendance restricted, but “on-site Masses should not be ruled out altogether or absolutely suspended.”

The diocese said that if they were to be suspended, it should only be for a “specified and even shorter period, that is, within seven days maximum”.

“But even so, churches should be open during the day and remain accessible to people who might just want to drop by or come to visit and pray,” he said.

“An area may be specifically designated for this purpose and a person assigned to it to monitor and ensure that its condition and environmental situation are constantly at the level of health safety standards,” read the guidelines.

The guidelines, which were approved by Bishop Novaliches Roberto Gaa, can be viewed on the diocese’s Facebook page.


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Jerry B. Hatch