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For the time being, there is no broad diocesan lockdown: Novaliches is a type of primate.
The Diocese of Novaliches has told the faithful that until the government orders it, there would be no total diocesan lockdown.
Bishop Roberto Gaa said in a statement on Friday that temporary church closures will only be used as a last resort if the circumstance warrants it.
“This is because not all parishes are exactly the same in terms of community restrictions affecting them,” he explained. “For example, parishes along major streets or highways are different from those in subdivisions, and even subdivisions are not all the same in terms of community restrictions affecting them.”
“Moreover, parish pastors and administrators are under pressure to know and understand their parish issues better than anybody else in the diocesan administration at this time of heightened limitations,” he continued.
At the same time, Gaa is leaving it up to parish priests to decide whether or not to conduct a lockdown.
“Parish pastors and administration should now be in charge of placing parish churches on lockdown. As previously stated, this should only be done as a 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 in accordance with existing LGU protocols on community lockdowns,” the Novaliches diocese’s head said.
He stated that if the parish administrator decides to execute a lockdown, he must inform and seek advice from higher officials.
“However, before putting his parish church on lockdown, the parish pastor or administrator must inform and even seek advice 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.
According to Gaa, church closures affect not only the general public but also the clergy.
“As for the Church, lockdowns unknowingly cause harm to our spiritual-sacramental sense and sensitivity, especially when done voluntarily or on its own initiative from within.” To those outside the Church’s decision-making process, it appears as if the Church, which is supposed to be their sole hope and a citadel of serenity and tranquility in times of crisis, has gone into panic mode and chosen to shut itself down,” the Novaliches prelate remarked.
He stated that the Church must endeavor to hold firm as the sacrament of Christ in the world, a pillar of courage and strength, serenity and peace, constancy, love, fidelity, and selfless service in the face of the pandemic.
“When people have nowhere else to turn and no one else to turn to, the Church is always ready to welcome and comfort them.”
Gaa, on the other hand, stated that online Masses will continue to be held in the diocese’s churches.