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  • The New Rules Of Baptisms Once Religious Ceremonies Are Allowed During GCQ

    by Rachel Perez .
The New Rules Of Baptisms Once Religious Ceremonies Are Allowed During GCQ
  • In the time of a health crisis, many Filipinos place their hope and pray to God that He heals the sick and eradicates COVID-19. But religious gatherings are not allowed during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and under general community quarantine (GCQ). 

    The Catholic Church and the Council of the Laity of the Philippines, however, appealed to the government to let them resume conducting holy mass. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told church officials to coordinate with their local government units (LGUs) about their plans to implement physical distancing during religious gatherings.

    "Pag ma-lift ung ECQ na mapayagan kami magkaroon ng religious services kaya gumawa na kami ng guidelines," said Manila Archdiocese Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo

    Proposed GCQ guidelines for church ceremonies and holy mass

    The Catholic church has complied with the ban on religious gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. During this year's Holy Week, the Vatican and churches here in the country conducted holy mass online so the community can still participate even when staying home.

    Under the new normal, these are the social distancing guidelines and prevention protocols proposed by the Manila Archdiocese, based on a report on GMA 7's 24 Oras:

    Baptisms and weddings

    For couples getting married in the church, only their immediate families and witnesses will be allowed in the church. For christenings, the parents, the child to be baptized, and one pair of godparents will be allowed to attend the baptism ceremony at the church. 

    The report did not elaborate if the child's parents or the couple can still list more than a pair of ninongs and ninangs in the baptism or wedding certificate. 


    Holy mass

    In compliance with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) guidelines, everyone who will go out of the house should wear a mask, including the priest and one or two non-youth sacristans or lay ministers who will assist the priest during the mass. The ceremony will have fewer singing parts, so there won't be a need for a choir. Only one song leader and a person playing an instrument will be allowed. 

    Social distancing will be enforced by providing limited seats that are set apart from one another. Once the seats are filled, the church will be closed. Bishop Pabillo said they may allow churchgoers to stay and hear the mass outside the church, but only if proper social distancing is still enforced.

    The mass will also have a no-touch policy during the Lord's Prayer, wherein attendees usually join hands. During the exchange of peace, kissing on the cheeks (beso-beso), shaking hands, or paying respects by making the traditional "mano po" gesture are prohibited.

    During Holy Communion, the priest and lay ministers will need to wash hands first. No conversation is allowed. The priest or lay minister will not say, "The Body of Christ" and the one receiving need not reply.

    The holy water basin will be sealed, and churchgiers will not be allowed to touch or wipe religious statues. After each mass, the whole church will need to be disinfected before letting in those who will attend the next mass. Some of these rules were already included in the changes to church practices, which was announced last March 2020, before the ECQ was imposed.

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    The Manila Archdiocese is also considering not using churches' air conditioners during the mass and installing a foot bath and thermal scanner to scan for body temperatures at the entrance. 

    Malacañang initially announced that the IATF-EID would allow religious gatherings under GCQ as long as COVID-19 prevention protocols are strictly followed. This however backtracked after LGUs expressed concerns about implementing social distancing rules during religious mass gatherings. 

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