Manila Cathedral – Basilica at night (photo from

Catholic churches across the country simultaneously rung their bells on Wednesday afternoon to call for prayers to end the crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a circular released on Tuesday, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles called for the simultaneous ringing of church bells across the country on April 8 at 3PM to signal the start of a televised inter-faith prayer across the country to end the crisis.

The national ecumenical prayer was called for by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“It will be comforting and encouraging for our people when they sense and observe that a spirit of unity and working together is there in these trying times,” Valles said.

Bishop Oscar Florencio of the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines said the prayer activity will be led by the Chaplain Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“The AFP chaplains will assist to invoke the mighty help of God as we plead Him to heal those affected by COVID-19 and to spare us from this present pandemic,” Florencio said.

Public celebration of Holy Masses in Metro Manila and other archdioceses and dioceses in the Philippines remains suspended amid the government-imposed lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

According to a directive from the CBCP, the Vatican ordered that holy week rites will still be celebrated in cathedrals and parish churches affected by the lockdown but strictly without the presence of the laity to follow government directives against mass gatherings.  (Rommel F. Lopez)