Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso on Tuesday called on the Catholic Church to come up with a plan on how to observe the annual “Simbang Gabi” or pre-dawn masses that lead up to the celebration of Christmas Eve, without violating the protocols prescribed by government and risking transmission of the coronavirus.
Domagoso said that this early, plans should already be discussed, at the very least, if not already polished for enforcement beginning December 16, when the nine-day traditional masses begin.
According Domagoso, the city government of Manila is ready to sit down with them and have a well-thought out plan that would protect the Catholic faithful from getting infected by COVID-19 while observing the age-old tradition considered to be an important religious activity.
“I hope that they (Church authorities) will already begin planning among themselves on how we are going to practice the tradition while keeping everyone safe from COVID-19. Kami naman ay handang makipag-ugnayan sa kanila,” Domagoso said.
Domagoso added that, while there is no perfect rule or formula, he believes that the leaders of the Church will be able to make a plan that would be acceptable to everybody concerned while ensuring that the possibility of COVID-19 transmission through mass gatherings is avoided.
He said the plans for the observance of the Feast of the Black Nazarene also has to be discussed and planned out already.
“I am appealing sa mga lider ng Simbahan… we are trying to be ahead of things because there are some things that we cannot control pero pupuwede naman iwasan. These are two important occasions kaya ang paghikayat ko ay sana, mapatupad ng ating mga lider ng iba’t-ibang sector ng plano… mas masarap yung kusa,” Domagoso said.
The “Simbang Gabi” is a series of nine dawn masses on the days leading up to Christmas Day.
Beginning December 16, the masses can start as early as 4 a.m and is celebrated by the predominantly Catholic nation as its most important religious event.
The Feast of the Black Nazarene, on the other hand, is celebrated every January 9, when millions of devotees turn up to join the procession known as “Traslacion.”