Face Masks in Church: Weddings and baptisms to continue as PH eases lockdown rules

Feeling guilty over a sin you committed during the lockdown? Well, fret not, because confessions will make a comeback now that various parts of the Philippines have eased their lockdowns.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said in an exclusive interview with Unang Hirit today that churches would resume their services but measures would be implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including cutting down on the number of godparents in baptisms.

Read: PH Catholic Church pushes for resumption of masses during general community quarantine

“During a baptism, there will only be the parents of the child, a godmother, and a godfather. Everyone in attendance should also wear a mask. Your body temperature should not be higher than 37.8 [degrees Celcius],” the priest said in English and Filipino.

“Confessions can only be held in an open space, everyone should wear a face mask, and it should be observed from a certain distance, including the penitent and the priest. During a mass, those attending should wear a face mask, and they should use a [disinfecting] foot bath. [The church] will have a separate entrance door and a separate exit door. Inside the church, there should be social distancing [and people should sit] one meter apart,” Secillano said.

Priests will no longer say “The body of Christ” before each person during communion, he added.

“They will just raise the sacramental bread [in front of everyone] and say ‘The body of Christ.’ Before the communion, the people should see that the priest and lay ministers have washed their hands,”  Secillano added.

Read: SURVEY: Most Filipinos would choose to believe religion over science

Massive weddings will now become obsolete, as the Catholic Church will only allow the couple, their parents, and a pair of godparents to attend the event. During the pre-pandemic years, Filipino church weddings are often attended by at least a hundred people, including a dozen bridesmaid and groomsmen.

Religious festivals, which feature processions, will continue because the Catholic Church said they don’t attract a multitude of people unless they occurred during the Lenten season.

“The parish will be responsible for maintaining social distancing during this period that we are in a general or enhanced community quarantine. They should use safety standards to protect the public,” Secillano said.

The Philippine Catholic Church has been pushing for the resumption of masses and other religious gatherings in areas that fall under the general community quarantine. During the stricter version of the lockdown, called the enhanced community quarantine, masses were banned, which affected churches financially because they could no longer collect donations from parishioners.

However, the coronavirus could quickly spread in places of worship, as proven by what happened in South Korea’s Shincheonji Church of Jesus and the Greenhills Masjid in San Juan, Metro Manila.

This article, Face Masks in Church: Weddings and baptisms to continue as PH eases lockdown rules, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!