Guidelines for the conduct of church gatherings in the Philippines under the “new normal” conditions of community quarantine that continues to be enforced in the entire archipelago have been released by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
The liturgical guidelines provide regulations on religious services once public gatherings resume during General Community Quarantine (GCQ), Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), and Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ).
Government regulations for quarantined areas still prohibit mass gatherings. However, essential work gatherings and religious activities may continue as long as strict social distancing is maintained during the entirety of the event, subject to the following:
- At least 2 meters distance between and among those attending
- Mandatory wearing of face mask, face shield, or other facial protective equipment by attendees
- GCQ areas limit participants up to 10 persons only
- MECQ areas limit participants up to 5 persons only
According to Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Manila Archdiocese, parishes are more than willing to coordinate with local government units to make sure that the safety measures are strictly being followed in liturgical celebrations.
CBCP issued these following recommendations for the conduct of the Holy Mass:
- elderly (60 years old and above), children (under 21 years old), the sick are urged not to attend following government regulations and as a precaution to avoid infection. A visit from a priest, a deacon or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion to bring them the Eucharist is instead highly recommended
- Mass attendees should all wear face masks
- placement of markers on pews or benches to indicate where to sit to observe social distancing of 1 meter between
- Collection Baskets should not be passed from person to person; instead ushers to use long-handled baskets or place designated boxes or collection points
- tape placed on the floor, to indicate proper spacing between persons lining up for Communion
- No holding of hands during the singing/praying of the “Our Father” and shaking of hands during the Sign of Peace
- Priests and Lay ministers to practice proper hygiene before and after the Mass
- Lay ministers to wear face masks when not speaking at the altar
- Priests not to wear face masks but should be 1 meter from the congregation
- minimal number of altar servers and lectors in the sanctuary and practicing social distancing
- number of choir members singing to be reduced in order to keep social distancing; It may even be advisable to have only a cantor
- deacon or server may bring the missal, chalice, paten/ciborium, and cruets of wine and water to the altar, while the priest remains at the chair, or the priest could come to the altar and arrange the items on the altar
- the lavabo should be done by the priest alone, without assistance, at the credence table near the altar
- hosts for the communion to be consecrated should be placed on the side of the altar, with the priest saying the words of consecration directly over the host that he will consume
- Holy Communion will still be distributed only on the hand, with ministers wearing face masks and their hands sanitized before and after the distribution
- continuing live stream or televised Holy Mass
- new schedule of Masses should be circulated
- Offertory procession should be omitted
- Specific entrances and exits of the church need to be indicated to help maintain social distancing
- Station ushers to help direct traffic
- Thermal scanners to be used by ushers for temperature check as required by the health department
- Foot baths to be set up in all entrances of the church as required by the health department
- Hand sanitizers to be made available at the entrances of the church
- Ushers and Collectors to guide people on how to sanitize before entering the church, where to sit in the church, when to come to the communion line during Holy Communion, and when and where to enter and to exit the church
- Regular General Disinfection should be done for the entire place of worship, possibly with City or Municipal Governments assistance
Baclaran Church in Manila reopened to devotees following guidelines of the community quarantine and has scheduled regular disinfection of its premises twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.
TELL US in the comments below, are you ready to visit the church even during the quarantine?
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