Bishop of Legazpi issues new guidelines for church activities

Bishop Joël Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi (File photo)

TOWN OF LEGAZPI – Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi issued an updated directive on church activities on Thursday as a measure to help prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Based on Diocesan Circular No. 2, Series of 2022, parishes are to follow church capacity by 30% from the previous 50%.

“We will also observe very limited church activities. Children under 12 are not yet permitted inside the church. Therefore, there will be no First Communion celebration for the Instead, they are advised to stay home and join in the online church celebrations,” the circular read.

Baylon also said revival Masses in residences and funeral homes are not yet permitted and that priests may instead administer a blessing or a short prayer for the dead.

No mass confirmations and weddings can also take place before May 15.

Masses in malls and offices are permitted provided the venue is an open space or outdoors.

“Although we have authorized the Saturday Eucharist of neo-catechumenal communities, we do however advise against it at this time due to the continued increase in Covid-19 cases in the province. No regular confession and anointing of sick and dying. As an alternative, priests and relatives of the sick may pray the prayer for the sick during this pandemic,” the circular adds.

The chapels of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration (PER) will not yet admit the faithful because they are closed and cramped spaces. Instead, worshipers are encouraged to pray and visit larger churches. Nocturnal youth training activities and the like are not yet permitted.

Additionally, face-to-face meetings in large groups are strongly discouraged and instead encouraged to be done online.

Baylon, in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), said baptisms are still permitted provided that a limited number of children and guests are observed to avoid overcrowding.

“The 30% capacity is for masses, while for baptism there will be a limit on the number of children to avoid overcrowding,” he said.

The Prelate also reminded parishioners that they must strictly adhere to health protocols such as wearing face masks at all times, including weddings and funerals, temperature screening before entering the church, hand disinfection and physical distancing.

“We continue to fervently pray the Oratio Imperata against Covid-19. May God, through the intercession of Our Lady of Salvation, protect us and keep us safe,” the Bishop said. (NAP)

Charles K. Eckert