MANILA - Catholic bishops called on the Filipino faithful Wednesday to pray 10 Hail Marys daily starting Saturday, Aug.15, for healing as the coronavirus pandemic persists.
Filipino Catholics are urged to pray the Marian prayer every 12 noon in schools, seminaries, parishes, and communities for an end to lockdowns and for the healing of the country.
The nationwide campaign starts on Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption, and ends on Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
"We also invite all to a collective prayer action to lift the lockdowns and help heal the nation. God always listens and nothing is impossible with Him," bishops said in a pastoral letter issued Wednesday.
The letter was penned by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and San Jose de Nueva Ecija Bishop Roberto Mallari, who chair the Episcopal Commission on Seminaries and Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education respectively.
It was endorsed by Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines acting president Caloocan Bishop Virgilio David.
While declaring a lockdown was necessary in March, the Church leaders said a "continued endless lockdown" now is "unnecessary given the declining and comparatively insignificant death rates and faulty tests."
"We call on government officials to be more open to the new scientific insights and global experiences around COVID-19, even if these may challenge one’s belief systems and preferred approaches to managing the epidemic," the bishops said.
The bishops also asked the media to be "truly independent and fearless" in its reporting of the COVID-19 crisis.
"The science and facts have evolved away from the original narrative that caused and surrounded the lockdowns. Be truly independent and fearless. Follow the truth wherever it may lead," the bishops said.
The Philippines as of Wednesday has confirmed 143,749 COVID-19 infections since the disease was first reported in the country in January. The figure includes 2,404 deaths, and 68,997 recoveries.
The active cases, which refer to patients who are still infected with COVID-19 and are staying either in the hospital or under home quarantine, are 72,348.
Lockdowns due to the virus had limited movement and transport in major parts of the country, with church services either suspended or limited to the attendance of a few.