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PASTORAL LETTER On the Safety and Security of our Churches and special attention to Heritage Churches in the Archdiocese of Caceres

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Addressed to the Parish Priests, Heads of Institutions in Caceres
and the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Caceres.

Our Dear Parish Priests, Institution Heads and the Clergy,

Peace of the Risen Christ!

Just a few days after our solemn celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection or Easter Sunday, we were shocked and angered by the simultaneous bombings of three Catholic churches and two hotels in Sri Lanka that cost the lives of more than 300 innocent victims and countless more wounded. Our hearts and prayers go to the victims and the wounded and to the Sri- Lankan people.

Yesterday, a 6.2 earthquake shook Central Luzon that sadly took the lives of at least 10 persons and caused serious damages to properties including some historical churches. Likewise, a 6.5 earthquake caused damages to properties and brought panic to the people in San Juan, Eastern Samar. The tremors were felt as far as Cebu and some parts of the Bicol region.

The barbaric violence in Sri Lanka and the natural calamities in Central Luzon and Samar are wake up calls for us Pastors and clergy to remain vigilant and ever conscious of the safety of our parishioners especially during our big liturgical celebrations. Without causing undue panic and confusion, I enjoin you dear Pastors to put in place security measures in your respective Churches to protect our faithful and to ensure peaceful liturgical celebrations.

Likewise, considering the frequencies of natural calamities caused by climate change and the very recent damaging earthquakes, I enjoin you dear Parish Priests and heads of institutions to initiate periodic inspection of the structural integrity of our churches, seminaries and ‘conventos’, especially our old historical churches, conventos and buildings.

We must always ensure the safety of our church goers, and be pro-active in safeguarding our churches and the faithful against human violence and natural calamities.

The Archdiocese will partner with professional groups and structural engineers, and security experts to help us safeguard our parishioners, and preserve our cultural heritage, like our historical edifices and churches.

We continue to remain vigilant in view of the upcoming political and religious events in our Archdiocese of Caceres.

We pray that no harm may ever come to our archdiocese, to province and region and our country.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia, our INA, pray for us and protect us always!
God bless us all! Allelluia, Allelluia, Allelluia!

(signed)

+ ROLANDO J. TRIA TIRONA, OCD
Archbishop of Caceres

April 24, 2019

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