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Manila cancels public Masses, religious services due to coronavirus

Filipino Catholics attend Mass in Manila during the observance of Ash Wednesday. On March 13, the Manila Archdiocese announced that public Mass celebrations will be suspended March 14 - 20. (Photo by Basilio Sepe)

There will be no public celebrations of Mass in Manila for seven days starting Saturday, March 14, following the reported increase in the number of people infected by the new coronavirus in the Philippine capital.

“I dispense all the faithful from the obligation of the Holy Mass this Sunday,” read a pastoral letter issued by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Manila Archdiocese.

The prelate said the faithful can participate in Mass through the church-run Radio Veritas, television channel TV Maria, and on live streaming of parish celebrations.

The Manila Archdiocese will assess the situation within the week before deciding when to resume the public celebrations in Asia’s oldest episcopal see and home to millions of Catholics.

Bishop Pabillo, meanwhile, ordered the ringing of church bells twice daily at 12 noon and at 8 p.m. to invite people to pray. He said prayers should be accompanied by acts of penance and charity, reminding the people of the observance of the season of Lent.

“Avoid panic-buying,” appealed the bishop. “We should not consider only our needs, but also the needs of others,” he said.

He urged Catholics to “think of the needs of others, especially of the poor, who are the most vulnerable.”

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Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.