The long IATF Resolution No. 104 was summarized by a friendly barangay official in the IFI parish church which I am serving.
As a priest, I give special attention in regards to “No religious gatherings and face to face meetings” and that there is a limit to 10 person upon attending wedding, baptism, wake and burial. Such restrictions will be implemented in one of the important dates of our Christian life–the Holy Week or the commemoration of the Passion–suffering, death and resurrection –of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To emphasize, this order is deemed insensitive and anti-Church faithful.
How can this happen if the members of IATF are respectful to our Christian faith? In fact, the Holy Week is not only the time for Baptism and Wedding. Even burial is not usually done during Holy Week. Wake for the faithful departed, yes. Celebrating Holy Masses on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Easter Sunday are important events of the Church. Commemorating the death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday even inside the Church is also an important event. But these events are ordered by “non-Christians” not to be observed.
If the members of IATF believe that the observance of Holy Week is a leisure week or days for vacation, they are entirely mistaken.
Funny how one of my colleague priest even twitted this resolution, saying that “the Devil is smiling.”
Allowing the Christians to participate in the Holy Mass with proper observance of the minimum standard of wearing face mask and face shield with physical distancing still remain as a wise decision of IATF. Parish and local churches are already spacious and that the Church authorities know how to manage various arrangements and in receiving communions in line with the prescribed health and safety protocols. Ordering to celebrate Holy Mass with live streaming is possible but it cannot be done without celebrating the actual conduct of the Holy Mass inside the parish and local churches.
The surge of the infection of COVID-19 and its variants remained a detriment for most people since last year. Still, we echo for sincere conduct of mass swab testing, continuing contact tracing, providing safe quarantine, and acquiring more vaccines as the contamination of “unseen” enemies cannot only be done from imposed lockdown which will ran from March 22 to April 4 this year. Only to figure out the actual or “seen” enemy here is the absurdity of the government upon the implementation of anti-people policies in addressing the pandemic.
A long term and serious plan should be done at the helm of medical experts. People who are residing in the congested communities should be encouraged to participate in solving the contamination. Militarist lockdown and checkpoints would never curb or promote virus contamination. Indeed, the police and military can control the movements of people but not the movement of virus.
The IATF must stop in depriving the Church faithful to express their devotion as a worshipping community where they can draw their strength and courage to live amid pandemic, worsening economic crisis, and tyranny.
After all, Christians are responsible people. They know to abide the safety and health protocols. They are morally upright and faithful servants especially with good governance that knows how to respect the right of people to worship God.