MANILA - The Diocese of Novaliches has assured the faithful that there will be no general diocesan lockdown unless ordered by the government.
In a statement Friday, Bishop Roberto Gaa said the temporary closure of churches will be the last resort if the situation requires it.
"This inasmuch as not all parishes are not exactly situated similarly but rather and in fact differently situated, For instance, parishes along major streets or highways are different from those in subdivisions, and even then, parishes in subdivisions are not all the same in terms of community restrictions affecting them," he said.
"Moreover, parish pastors and administrators are pressured to know and understand their parish situations, at this time of heightened restrictions, better than anyone else in the diocesan administration," he added.
At the same time, Gaa is leaving it to the discretion of parish priests if they would like to implement a lockdown.
"Placing parish churches on lockdown should now become the responsibility of parish pastors and administrators. As mentioned above, this should only be done as the last resort and in response to grave threats to people's health and safety particularly those living within the confines of the church building itself and its immediate vicinity, and as ordered by the government following the existing LGU protocols on community lockdowns," the head of the Novaliches diocese said.
He said the parish administrator must inform and seek counsel from higher officials regarding a decision to implement a lockdown.
"Still, before placing his parish church under lockdown, the parish pastor or administrator must inform and even seek counsel from the Bishop and/or in his absence, from the Vicar General for Administration, and/or his own respective Vicar Forane, i.e., for proper pastoral processing, validation and official communication," he added.
Gaa said the closing of churches not only has an effect on people but also on the clergy.
"As for the Church, lockdowns do unwittingly mete out injury to our spiritual-sacramental sense and sensibility as Church, more so if this is done voluntarily or out of its own initiative from within. To many of those outside its decision-making process, it is as if the Church which is supposed to be their only hope and bastion of courage and strength, a citadel of serenity and peace in times of crisis such as this has gone on panic mode and chosen to lock itself down," the Novaliches prelate added.
He said Church must strive to stand its ground amid the pandemic as the sacrament of Christ in the world, a pillar of courage and strength, of serenity and peace, of constancy, love, fidelity, and selfless service.
"When people have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to, there is the Church-always ready to welcome and give them relief and comfort."
On the other hand, Gaa added that churches in the diocese will continue to hold online Masses. (PNA)