Many afraid to attend Mass due to coronavirus, archbishop says

Many afraid to attend Mass due to coronavirus, archbishop says

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Ozamiz City opens its doors to the faithful on May 17 adhering strictly to government health protocols such as physical distancing, use of face masks and installation of foot baths. WENDELL TALIBONG

By Roy Lagarde

May 22, 2020

Manila, Philippines

When a southern Philippine archdiocese resumed holding public Masses last Sunday, the gatherings weren’t quite what church authorities expected.

Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz said the turnout at the city’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral was much lesser than the usual Sunday attendance.

“People are afraid to come to church because of this pandemic. Practically only few attended our Masses when we opened the church,” Archbishop Jumoad said.

The prelate inaugurated the full opening of the cathedral on May 17 and five other parishes in the city held public Masses for the first time in two months, in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions in the city.

Religious services were forbidden with the lockdown, which was eased in many parts of the country last week.

The archdiocese is holding Masses under strict new guidelines worked out between the church and local government authorities.

The faithful will have to wear masks and observe physical distancing. The churches also installed foot baths.

Ozamiz cathedral could accommodate around 1,500 worshippers. “But in most Masses, church attendance was only about 300 people,” Archbishop Jumoad said.

“Still, it was good we did it and we hope next Sunday church attendance will increase, he said.