COVID hits ‘Day of the Dead’ in Philippines again

A Philippine diocese has decided to close all its cemeteries on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day for the second consecutive year due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Oct 15, 2021

People light candles and pray for their relatives at a cemetery during the annual observance of All Saints’ Day in Manila on Nov 1, 2019. (UCA News photo)

 

By Joseph Peter Calleja
A Philippine diocese has decided to close all its cemeteries on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day for the second consecutive year due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Legaspi Diocese in southern Luzon announced the decision a week after it was announced that Manila Archdiocese would close its cemeteries.

Bishop Joel Baylon of Legaspi told Radio Veritas on October 13 that the decision to cancel events for a second year was made after consultations with health officials and clergymen in his diocese.

“The decision … was difficult because many parishioners like to visit the graves of their loved ones at this special time of year. But we need to balance our faith with the reality this pandemic brings,” Bishop Baylon said. The diocese said it has asked local authorities to post policemen at cemetery gates from Oct 30 to Nov 3.

Last year, cemeteries and columbaries in the entire country were declared off limits for the two special days by the national government.

This year, Bishop Baylon said, he took the unilateral decision to close cemeteries in his jurisdiction.

“Since COVID-19 case numbers in our province are still alarmingly high, I deemed it prudent to implement the closure of all the Catholic cemeteries in the diocese from Oct 30 until Nov 3, except of course for burials,” he said.

Bishop Baylon also urged Catholics not to visit cemeteries at all, if possible, to avoid mass transmission of the virus.

“We will have online Masses for our dearly departed. We will also broadcast these Masses via our radio and local TV networks. So, let’s use technology for the moment because we should not take the virus lightly,” he said. --ucanews.com

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