The Episcopal Conference has developed a guide of measures to resume the celebration of worship in churches during de-escalation: empty holy water basins, faithful with a mask, more masses to avoid large influx or not passing the basket are some adaptations.
The Church has expressed its intention to “progressively recover the normality of ecclesial life”, although it has specified that in this transition phase it maintains the dispensation from the precept of participating in Sunday mass and recommends to the elderly and people from risk groups that stay home.
In the protocol that it has published this Thursday, the Episcopal Conference has called for “maximum prudence” and has specified that a continuous evaluation of the implementation of these measures will be necessary, taking into account what the health authority has at all times.
Among the measures proposed are increasing Sunday masses when there is a greater influx to decongest the temples, the recommendation that the faithful wear a mask, keep the holy water basins empty and the doors of the churches open to avoid touching handles or knobs.
In addition, the distribution of the faithful, access to communion and the entrance and exit of the temple must be organized in each worship service, respecting the safety distance.
Hydroalcoholic gel should be distributed at the entrance and exit of the churches, avoid choirs and do not distribute song sheets or sheets or readings and confessions will require the use of a mask and respect the safety distance.
The collection basket will not be passed, but will be located at the exit and in the chalice mass, paten and cups will remain covered during the prayer and the priest and those who intervene will have to disinfect their hands.
The greeting of peace can be replaced by a gesture without contact, the Eucharist will be distributed in silence and the senior priests will not distribute communion.
The templas will have to be disinfected after each act.
Baptism will be a brief rite and contact between children will be avoided, the anointing will be made with a single-use swab or cotton that must be cremated, also at the crismation of confirmation and in the administration of oils in the anointing of the sick.
When a marriage is celebrated, only the parties will manipulate rings and earnest money and it is requested that gestures of affection involving personal contact be avoided at funerals.
The bishops intend to celebrate the funeral of the deceased in the coming weeks.
In phase 1, the opening of temples with an influx of one third of the capacity will be allowed, daily and Sunday Eucharist will be celebrated and preference will be given to accompanying families who have lost a loved one.
In phase 2, the capacity will be increased by half and ordinary services will be restored and in phase 3, “ordinary pastoral life” will be recovered with the necessary hygiene and distance measures until the medical solution to COVID-19 is found.
In all phases the safety distance must be respected.
The bishops have celebrated that the disease “is being controlled” and that the recovery of daily life can begin “even with reservations and precautions” and have called for “exercising personal, political and social charity.”
In this sense, they have urged political parties, business and union organizations and the different administrations “to the agreement and collaboration in favor of the common good,” especially to help “the poor and those who suffer most from the consequences of this pandemic.”
Finally, he has recognized the “generous dedication” of health personnel and other essential professionals.