Manila archdiocese encourages voluntary wearing of face masks in ‘Simbang Gabi’

December 17, 2023 - 10:34 AM
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A family leaves the church after attending the first of the nine-day dawn mass known as Misa de Gallo, ahead of Christmas, at the Saint Joseph Parish, in Las Pinas City, Metro Manila, Philippines, December 16, 2022. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

As Catholics are expected to flock to churches for the traditional Simbang Gabi, the Archdiocese of Manila has encouraged the “voluntary” wearing of face masks inside houses of worship.

In a circular issued December 15, Cardinal Jose Advincula said the move is in accordance with the recommendation of the archdiocese’s Ministry on Health Care amid cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

“But we will not allow them to deprive us of Christmas joy,” Advincula said. “…We request our communities to observe the health and safety protocols.” Advincula said.

“Let us practice voluntary wearing of face masks and hand hygiene,” he said.

Those who are sick, were also reminded “to stay at home so as not to spread infection”.

“Let these measures be our gesture of charity and compassion for others, especially those who are vulnerable,” the cardinal added.

Also known as Misa de Gallo or “Rooster’s Mass” in Spanish, the Simbang Gabi starts on December 16 and ends on Christmas Eve.

The next few days, according to the Manila archbishop, “will again show us how vibrant, festive, and faith- filled Filipino Christmas is.”

“As I wish you a blessed Christmas season, I gladly assure you of my prayerful solicitude,” he said.