Philippine bishops release additional guidelines to fight coronavirus

A penitent kisses a crucifix as he takes part in a Good Friday service in Manila, Philippines, March 25, 2016. Amid continuing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Catholics in the Philippines have been asked not to kiss or touch the cross when they venerate it on Good Friday, which this year is April 10. (CNS photo/Ezra Acayan, Reuters)

By Ryan Harms 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Amid continuing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Catholics in the Philippines have been asked not to kiss or touch the cross when they venerate it on Good Friday, April 10.

Instead, they should “genuflect or make a profound bow” before the cross during the veneration of the cross, according to updated liturgical guidelines issued Feb. 20 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and posted on Twitter.

Already in January, the bishops’ conference advised priests to distribute the Eucharist in communicants’ hands rather than their mouths, to place protective cloths over the screens of confessionals and to change the holy water in church fonts regularly. The conference also asked the faithful not to hold hands during the “Our Father” and not to shake hands during the sign of peace.

In the new guidelines, which the bishops’ conference said it “strongly recommends” following, priests were asked to distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, by “dropping or sprinkling a small portion of blessed ash on the crown of the head of the faithful,” rather than rubbing them on the person’s forehead.

The World Health Organization reported that as of Feb. 19, there were more than 75,000 cases of coronavirus, but fewer than 1,000 of the cases involved people outside of China. Three cases of the coronavirus have been documented in the Philippines, with one resulting in death, according to WHO.

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