(UPDATED) The Archdiocese of Manila and its suffragan dioceses — Cubao, Pasig, and Parañaque — have suspended public religious services under the modified enhanced community quarantine, responding to medical frontliners’ call for a two-week “time out” amid rising coronavirus cases.

Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who has been cleared of the virus, wrote in a pastoral instruction: “We share the compassion of the medical front liners for the many sick people being brought to our hospitals.”

“We have witnessed their dedicated service to those who come to them. Many among them are tired and even discouraged by their heavy responsibilities,” he said.

Pabillo said the doctors’ call for “time out” would allow them to “reassess the response that we as a country have [to do in] this pandemic.”

“We will also use this time to evaluate our church response to the pandemic and see how we can improve them,” Pabillo said.

Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco urged the public “[to] keep open minds, open hearts, and open hands at this crucial time,” acknowledging that “understanding, compassion, and generosity” are essential to help us in the present challenges in “alleviating our people’s suffering.”

“We cannot turn a deaf ear to the distressed and do nothing. Even as we temporarily suspend public worship, I pray that we will actively do our part to help,” he explained.

Pasig bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara said “[many] of our doctors and other healthcare workers are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted, suffering the great burden of the pandemic.”

“In fact, a big number of them have caught the disease and fallen ill,” he continued.

Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado for his part said, “[let] this be our little contribution to the huge battle against this pandemic, and we will do this as our manifestation of support for our heroes, the frontliners.”

“Let us intensify our support to our beloved frontliners, especially our prayers for their strength and good health, as well as protection of their families against Covid-19,” he added.

The four bishops urged Filipinos “to be diligent,” and not fall into complacency and unmindfulness by “[taking] seriously the health protocols to keep safe,” including the use of face masks, frequent washing of hands, and physical distancing “for our safety and the safety of our loved ones.”

“These may be simple things but they help a lot in stemming the spread of the virus,” Pabillo continued.

According to CBCPNews, the MECQ status will cover nine dioceses: Cubao, Kalookan, Parañaque, Novaliches, Pasig, Antipolo, Imus, Malolos and San Pablo.

The dioceses will continue to hold online services and religious activities, while the laity are still dispensed from their Sunday obligation of attending Holy Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. Francis David T. Perez