Adjustments to some traditional church practices need to be done as part of efforts at preventing transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-1), according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
In a circular signed by CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles is addressed to all bishops and diocesan administrators on Tuesday, the CBCP said the measures it recommends do not change the traditions of the church, but rather are "temporary precautions" amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines.
The CBCP advised those who are feeling unwell physically to refrain from liturgical assemblies until they are certain of their diagnosis.
The CBCP also appealed to priests and the clergy to follow hygiene protocol requested by the Department of Health such as proper handwashing and avoidance of body contact.
Liturgical spaces should be disinfected after every liturgical service and hand sanitizers placed at the doors of churches for church goers.
The reception of Holy Communion would still be by hand.
Ministers would be required to wear face masks when they give communion as a protection for both the layman and the communicants.
While holy water fonts would be emptied, the CBCP also reminded the public to refrain from kissing and touching sacred images and statues.
Confessions are also to be done in Confessionals with a protective cloth installed at the grill.
After the World Health Organization confirmed that the virus can spread through monetary bills, the CBCP advised the people to refrain from passing the box to church goers and allow collectors to hold the collection bag instead.
"We continue to pray the Oratio Imperata we have requested to all the dioceses of the country. We pray that this pandemic might end quickly and that through the intercession of Our Holy Mother, the Help of Christians, and St. Raphael the Archangel, and all our Saints we may be delivered from this epidemic," the bishops said.
The Philippines has so far confirmed a total of 33 cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
President Rodrigo Duterte has already declared a state of public health emergency due to the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. — BAP, GMA News