Catholics should expect changes in the celebration of weddings, baptisms, and other rites in churches under the Archdiocese of Manila once the ban on religious activities is lifted as the country battles the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will allow only simple weddings this year, with only the bride and the groom with one set of sponsors and the immediate family. No more entourage,” Apostolic Administrator of Manila, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, said on Friday.
Baptisms will be held in small batches and only the parents and one set of godparents will be allowed per child, Pabillo said.
“Let the parishes allow baptisms to be celebrated during set times on weekdays to decongest baptisms on Sundays,” he said.
Pabillo noted that only one cotton with holy oil would be used per child, and it would be burned after the ceremony.
“We can forgo mass confirmations this year. Those who are to be baptized as adults or who get married can be confirmed by the parish priest as church discipline dictates,” he said.
As for confessions, churches are required to reconfigure their small confessional boxes to allow social distancing.
If this is not possible, confessions have to be done outside the confessional box, with a one-meter distance between the priest and the penitent, Pabillo said, adding that a special place should be designated for this where people can see that confessions are available.
“Both the priest and the penitent should wear face masks. Priests may not hear confessions via telephone or Zoom teleconferencing, though they may use these methods to offer the penitents spiritual counsel,” he said.
Meanwhile, parishes can also organize a “kumpisalang bayan” (mass confession) with penitential service to enable the people to come to confession, since they were not able to do last Lent, Pabillo said.
Depending on the number of people, two or three mass confessions may be held.
“Proper social/physical distancing should be observed as during the Mass. The parishes in the vicariates can help one another here,” he added.
Religious gatherings remain prohibited both under the enhanced and the general community quarantine to stop the spread of the virus.