As Metro Manila cemeteries were ordered shut down from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has urged the public to view the “Undas” season with more understanding and prudence, noting that visiting the dearly departed is not an obligation.
“When we celebrate the All Souls’ and All Saints’ Day, what is more important are prayers for the dead; it’s not really important that we go to cemeteries. Going to cemeteries is not an obligation,” Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of CBCP’s public affairs committee, said in an interview on Friday.
“What is truly essential is for people to offer prayers. My advice is [for people] to go to their parishes or if their parishes are closed due to COVID-19, they can just call the offices and offer the intentions for the dead,” he said.
“Everyday there is a Mass and all parishes and churches are doing their Masses live on Facebook. We have access [to church] through digital means,” Secillano said.
“If they cannot go to cemeteries, they can opt to stay at their own homes and light a candle for the departed and the families can pray for them,” he added.
The cities of Manila, San Juan, Valenzuela, Pateros, Makati, Malabon, Marikina, Parañaque and Cebu have earlier announced the shutting down of all cemeteries, memorial parks and columbaries to prevent mass gathering and transmission of the new coronavirus disease.
“When there are many people congregating in one place, there is always a risk of being infected so we just need to be prudent. The policy of the government should be viewed with the eyes of prudence and understanding. The church complies with the government,” the priest said.
Prayers, he said, were the best way to respond with grief, especially during these times when a large number of people have died due to the pandemic.