Lipa archbishop tests positive for COVID-19; Cubao and Novaliches dioceses close churches as preventive measure
MANILA – Lipa Archbishop Gilbert A. Garcera said he and other priests in the Archdiocese of Lipa tested COVID-19 positive after undergoing the RT-PCR test recently.
This comes at the heels of the unabated spike in new COVID-19 positive cases which reached 7,999 yesterday.
The Diocese of Novaliches under Bishop Roberto O Gaa, in his circular dated March 20,2021, he said it may appear the only way to control the spike in COVID cases is to restrict the movements of people, from their homes to workplaces and churches.
Effective tomorrow, March 22, parish churches will go online streaming for Holy Masses and other religious and spiritual activities.
“We urge our people to please stay home and simply follow these activities online. We also urge parish offices to cut down their workforce to half and even restrict the movements of their church personnel to church building and grounds only,” Bishop Gaa said in his circular.
He said they will resume activities on site on Easter Sunday, April 4 but will strictly adhere to health and safety protocols and government mandated restrictions. There are 70 parishes in the Diocese of Novaliches.
At the Diocese of Cubao, Bishop Honesto F. Ongtioco said with the surge of cases of infection, they decided to declare a lockdown of its parish churches from tomorrow to April 4,2021.
“This is to encourage the faithful to stay home and keep them safe,” Bishop Ongtioco said in a circular. He said they will reopen churches for public worship on April 5, Easter Monday “again, following our existing and perhaps even stricter safety protocols.”
He described the voluntary closing of places of worship at the highest point of the liturgical year as “heartbreaking.” He added the situation would place many of the faithful at risk
“Numbers are surging and scientific data show that unless drastic interventions are done, these numbers will not decline anytime soon,” he further said. He added everyone should embrace an act of self-denial for the sake of the greater number.
Bishop Ongtioco said he and his parish priests as well as religious leaders ad relevant ministries will exert efforts to find the best and most fruitful ways for the faithful to celebrate Holy Week on safe and online platforms.
There are 44 parishes in the Diocese of Cubao.
“Be comforted that only our church doors will be shut. We keep to heart what Pope Francis says: Jesus says to each one of us – “Courage, open your heart to my love. You will feel the consolation of God who sustains you”.
From the Archdiocese of Lipa, Archbishop Garcera said he and several priests are in a health-managed condition.
“While necessary medical treatment continues, I must admit that the battle against Covid-19 is far from over,” he said.
He expressed his appreciation to all priests, religious, and lay faithful for the well wishes and prayers as he requested for more prayers as he called on priests to offer Masses, Holy Hours and recitation of the Rosary for their immediate recovery and end to the pandemic.
In the Archdiocese of Manila, Radio Veritas President and Caritas Manila executive director Fr. Anton C. T. Pascual has been confined to the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center in San Juan, Metro Manila after being found COVID-19 positive through RT-PCR swab test.
Now in quarantine facilities are other Caritas Manila staff. No other details were available as of this writing. (Melo M. Acuña)
Lipa Archbishop Gilbert A. Garcera. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)