Legazpi bishop issues new guidelines for church activities

LEGAZPI CITY – Bishop Joel Baylon of the Legazpi Diocese has issued an updated guidelines (Diocesan Circular No. 2, Series of 2022) on church activities to help mitigate the Covid-19 surge. The guidelines direct parishes to strictly observe a 30% church capacity for rituals from the old 50%.

The Circular also advises parishes to limit church activities, and prohibits children below 12 years inside churches. “There will be no celebration of First Communion for now. Stay at home and join online church celebrations,” instead, it said.

Bishop Baylon said wake masses in residences and funeral parlors are also not allowed and priests may instead administer a blessing or short prayer for the dead. No mass confirmations and weddings may also be held until May 15, but holy masses in malls and offices are allowed provided that the venues are open space or outdoors.

“While we have allowed the Saturday Eucharist of the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, we, however, discourage this at this time because of the ongoing Covid-19 surge. No regular confession and anointing of the sick and the dying. As an alternative, priests and relatives of the sick can pray the prayer for the sick during this pandemic,” the circular added.

Baylon said Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration (PEA) chapels will not yet admit the faithful since they are closed and small spaces. Instead, the faithful are encouraged to visit big churches. Also not permitted are overnight youth formation and face-to-face meetings in big groups but they may be carried out online.

He said baptismal rites are still allowed but overcrowding is discouraged. “The 30-percent capacity is for the masses, while for baptism, there will be a limit as to the number of children so that overcrowding will be prevented,” he explained.

He likewise reminded parishioners to strictly observe health protocols including the wearing of face masks at all times, particularly during weddings and funerals; temperature checks  before entering churches, hand sanitizing, and physical distancing.

“We continue fervently praying 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. (PNA)