Malacañang to churches: Talk to your local government officials

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MANILA—Secretary Harry Roque, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) on Tuesday said churches should talk to their respective local government officials about the reopening of their church activities.

“Marami naman sa kasamahan natin sa IATF ang gusto nang ibalik ang pagbukas ng simbahan ngunit ang mga opisyal sa local government units ang ayaw,” Sec. Roque said.  

Secretary Roque was reacting on a question posed by a member of the media about the reported request of apostolic administrator in Manila and Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo to the IATF to reconsider its decision disallowing church services. 

However, Roque acknowledged that such request from the Manila bishop was not in the agenda of the recent IATF meeting.  He said that the best way is for church leaders to talk with their respective government officials and ensure that health and safety protocols are followed during their religious services. He said that in early May, the IATF approved the resumption of religious service but was later retracted because of the objection of local officials.

In a published report, Bishop Pabillo said, “religious services are also essential services. Allowing people to go back to church and thank the Lord, to ask for his protection and implore his help, are deemed very important by the people.”

The Archdiocese of Manila has already devised their own safety guidelines and protocols that will be observed in any religious services, which are taken largely from the guidelines set by the IATF and the Department of Health.  

Among the new normal “safety practices” that will be observed by the faithful aside from wearing of face masks are the physical distancing wherein the church limits the number of church goers during the celebration of the mass. 

It also limits the number of altar assistants, choir members and church ushers.  Church goers are likewise prohibited from holding the hands of seatmates during the singing of the Lord’s Prayer as well as in shaking of hands during the symbolic signing of peace.  Kissing of church images and making the sign of the cross using the Holy Water at the entrance of the church are also disallowed.

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