CEBU CITY, Philippines —The Cebu Provincial Government is inclined to allow Misa de Gallo (dawn Masses) amid threats of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
However, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said she would have to consult and discuss how to do about Misa de Gallo with church leaders before making any decisions.
“We have to confer with the Archdiocese of Cebu and see what’s their decision,” said Garcia.
Garcia pointed out the ‘separation of church and state’ enshrined in the Constitution as her basis, saying that churches should have the say when it comes to religious activities.
“I’m very appreciative with (Cebu) Archbishop (Jose) Palma… Archbishop Palma said they will follow whatever protocols the government will be providing but I think it’s time for us to recognize the separation of church and state so the church will be able to make their own decision,” Garcia said.
Last November 27, Malacañang Spokesperson Harry Roque announced that it’s up to local government units (LGUs) to decide the fate of Misa de Gallo this year with an ongoing pandemic.
The city governments of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu have officially allowed dawn Masses however under several conditions, which included limiting its conduct within parish churches only, and not chapels.
For Garcia, holding Misa de Gallo despite an ongoing public health crisis is important both in the spiritual and cultural sense.
“I believe Misa de Gallo has been embedded in our culture, including our humanity… And this is just my commentary but these protocols are taking further away from humanity. It’s as if we’re not living in a society and that we’re being forced to stay away with each other, told to stay away from the ceremony and the rights that feed our inner soul,” she added.
Shortly before Garcia made her pronouncements, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released the guidelines for churches’ conduct for Misa de Gallo.
CBCP released the guidelines under November 27 Circular No. 20-82 on the celebration of Aguinaldo masses, or the “Misa de Gallo.
These ordered churches nationwide to enforce social distancing, wearing face masks, and the ban on mass gatherings.
The CBCP also encouraged the live streaming of the liturgical celebrations for those who would not be able to attend the masses physically.