By Christina Hermoso
Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona has expressed concern on the safety and security of churches following the recent earthquakes in the country and the bombing in Sri Lanka.
In a pastoral letter addressed to the parish priests, heads of institutions, and the clergy of the Archdiocese of Caceres, Tirona called for vigilance against terror attacks and periodic inspection of the structural integrity of churches.
“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,” Tirona said.
“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, convents, and buildings,” he added.
The prelate stressed that the safety of churchgoers must always be prioritized.
“We must always ensure the safety of our churchgoers, and be proactive in safeguarding our churches and the faithful against human violence and natural calamities,” Tirona said.
The archdiocese, he said, “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,” Tirona said.
The Archdiocese of San Fernando in Pampanga, earlier said, at least 24 heritage churches are closed for inspection following the 6.1 earthquake on Monday. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has also ordered the inspection of churches under his jurisdiction such as the historic Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church.