PASIG, March 12, 2020 – Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, taking to mind the declaration of the Department of Health (DOH) regarding the state of public health emergency in the country as well as the measures and guidelines of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM), strongly recommended taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the diocese.
Issuing his “Pastoral Letter on COVID-19” dated last March 11, 2020, addressed to all the faithful including the clergy, religious men and women, and church leaders, Bishop Mylo enumerated the following guidelines or measures:
1. Follow the hygiene the DOH advised to wash our hands and avoid bodily contact;
2. Observe cough etiquette by covering the mouth with sleeves or napkins to be disposed of in proper safe places and frequent hand-washing;
3. Keep a healthy lifestyle, eat healthy food, take enough rest and sleep, and observe cleanliness to keep body and immune system strong enough to fight the infection caused by the virus,
4. Avoid as much as possible unnecessary travels; and
5. Those who are physically unwell especially with flu-like symptoms and cough refrain from going to liturgical assemblies till they are certain of their diagnosis.
Furthermore, for those in churches or institutions, the Bishop gave the following directives:
1. Empty holy water at the doors or entrances of churches during this time of crisis; dipping of hands in the holy water font is suspended. Instead, the bishop recommended sprinkling of holy water to be done by priests and Eucharistic ministers after the celebration of the mass and liturgical gatherings;
2. Disinfect the liturgical spaces after every liturgical services;
3. Frequently clean sacred objects like statues and vessels;
4. Provide hand sanitizers at various entrance doors of the church for the church goers;
5. Instruct the faithful not to hold hands when praying or singing the Lord’s Prayer and not to shake hands during the giving of the sign of peace. The Bishop recommended a reverent bow to one another during the giving of the sign of peace;
6. Continue implementing reception of Holy Communion in the hand;
7. Though it is a beautiful gesture, suspend temporarily the reverence of asking blessing from the hands of priests and elderly or the “mano po” gesture; instead, substitute it by a slight bow with a smile. An alternative physical gesture on the part of the priest for giving the blessing could be a slight touch on the head of the one asking for a blessing using the back of the priest’s hand.
8. For the communion ministers, both the ordained and lay, wear face masks when giving communion to protect both themselves and the communicants. They are to sanitize their hands before and after communion.
9. Conduct confessions at the confessionals with a protective cloth installed at the grill where the penitents and confessors conduct the confessions. Bishop Mylo granted the priests of the Diocese of Pasig permission to impart General Absolution during the Kumpisalang Bayan/ Parokya;
10. Appeal to faithful to refrain from kissing and touching the sacred images and statues during this time of crisis; and
11. Continue praying the Oratio Imperata which the CBCP directed all dioceses of the country to pray.
Meanwhile, Bishop Mylo informed the faithful that the Diocesan Lenten recollection scheduled on April 4, 2020, Saturday, will not be done at the Sta. Clara de Montefalco Parish; instead, it will be posted online in “Roman Catholic Diocese of Pasig” Facebook Page.
He also appealed to everyone to exercise prudence in using social media. “Kindly refrain from circulating or passing disinformation or fake news about Covid-19. If you will be sharing something in the social media, please make sure that they are coming from legitimate sources such as the DOH or WHO,” the Bishop said.
He also asked for the special intercession of Patroness of the Diocese of Pasig, the Immaculate Virgin Mary, St. Rock, and St. Joaquin and Anne that all may delivered from this pandemic. “We fly to your protection, Oh Holy Mother of God. Do not despice our petitions in our necessitices, but deliver us always from all dangers, Oh Glorious and Blessed Virgin, Amen,” the Bishop concluded with a prayer. /Fr. Lito Jopson, RCBP Media Office