Cebu Opens Cemeteries to Non-Catholics Who Died of COVID-19

An act of charity.
Photo/s: Unsplash/yIgnacio Amenábar

Catholic cemeteries in Cebu will open burial slots to non-Catholics who passed due to COVID-19, the province's archbishop said on Wednesday, as a fresh wave fueled by the Delta variant pushed case loads to record highs.

"In cases of non-Catholics who have died due to COVID, and there are no more vacant burial slots in their own respective cemeteries, I take it as an act of charity to allow their burial in our Roman Catholic cemeteries during these times of pandemic," Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palmasaid in a circular dated Aug. 27, 2021.

Roman Catholic cemeteries are considered sacred places for the burial of the faithful. Depending on the case, permission may be given for other uses, provided that they are not contrary to the sacred character of the place, according to the Canon cited in the circular.

"In order to be pastorally guided by this mandate, I suggest that proper consultations be made first with our competent ecclesiastical authorities when there are other issues and unforeseen circumstances that may arise on this matter," the archbishop added.

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While the decision stands due to the situation, Palma said "only time will tell, after prudent pastoral discernment, when this permission may be abrogated."

The Philippines, which has seen 2 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, is currently battling surges due to the super-contagious Delta variant. Record-high daily cases were tallied four times in August, with the current record set at 22,366.

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