The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Friday encouraged the faithful to return to churches for Mass, especially on Sundays.
CBCP president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said the current pandemic circumstances “permit and oblige us to the normality of Christian life, which has its home of the celebration of the liturgy, especially the Eucharist”.
“We strongly encourage our faithful to return to the Sunday Eucharist with a purified heart, renewed amazement, and increased desire to meet the Lord, to be with him, to receive him and bring him to our brothers and sisters with the witness of a life full of faith, love and hope,” David wrote in a circular to all the bishops and diocesan administrators.
Citing church law, he stressed that “the faithful are to hold the Eucharist in highest honor, taking active part in the celebration, receiving the sacrament devoutly and frequently, and worshipping it with supreme adoration”.
The church official made the call as the government placed the nation into more relaxed health protocols as a result of decreasing Covid-19 cases and high vaccination rates.
At the same time, he asked parishes to still implement the basic health protocols against COVID-19.
“We make sure that our faithful are convinced that they are safe in our churches and venues for the liturgical celebrations,” David said.
Many dioceses dispensed the faithful, especially the elderly, children and the sick, to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation while the threat of the virus was still widespread.
As a result of the government’s stricter COVID-19 measures during those times, the CBCP also pushed for the live streaming of Masses to compensate church closures.
Saying that the pandemic “has weakened”, the CBCP sought for evaluation on the needed frequency of celebrations of the Mass by live streaming.
“Greater coordination in the diocese is needed on this issue,” David added.
Echoing the letter of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to the episcopal conferences in September 2020, he also said that “no broadcast is comparable to personal participation” in the Mass “or can replace it”.
“The constant catechesis on the necessity of our faithful to return to our churches for the Sunday Eucharist should be explained in our homilies and in our catechesis,” the bishop said.