The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Tuesday released guidelines for the clergy and faithful amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), outlining measures such as communion by hand and protections for penitents and priests during confessions.

CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles said these measures “do not change the traditions of the Church but rather are temporary precautions during this time of crisis.”

Hand sanitizers must be provided and holy water fonts must be emptied, the CBCP guidelines stated.

“Clergy and the faithful should use best practices through careful hand-washing and frequent cleaning of liturgical space and objects after every liturgical service,” it said.

The CBCP also said “confessions are to be done in the confessionals with a protective cloth installed at the grill, where penitents and confessors conduct the confessions.”

The faithful must also refrain from kissing and touching sacred images and statues.

The reception of Holy Communion by hand will continue, the CBCP said.

“We also ask communion ministers to wear face masks when they give communion as a protection for themselves and the communicants. They are to sanitize their hands before and after Holy Communion,” Valles said.

During the offertory, collectors are advised to hold the collection bag that is brought to the faithful. The World Health Organization, it said, had confirmed that the coronavirus can spread through money.

As advised by the Department of Health (DOH), gatherings of big numbers of people will be canceled, postponed or suspended to prioritize the safety and health of the faithful.

People were also advised to continue praying the oratio imperata or obligatory prayer in “all weekday and Sunday masses, after the Holy Communion.”

Manila Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo, in his pastoral letter released on Monday, said Catholics must follow these precautionary measures to be prepared for any outcome.

“While we pray, let us also exercise good stewardship over our health. In the spirit of Lent let us keep a healthy lifestyle so that our bodies may be strong enough to resist infections,” the CBCP said.

Catholics were urged to stream TV Maria or Radio Veritas to watch the Holy Mass if they felth unwell, and refrain from liturgical assemblies until certain of their diagnosis.

As of March 11, the DOH has recorded 49 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines.


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