By Ryan Harms Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the bishops of the Philippines have asked Catholics to receive Communion only in the hand, to refrain from holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer and to regularly clean out holy water fonts.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines also sent every parish an obligatory prayer to be recited “after Communion, kneeling down,” asking God to protect people from “the 2019 N-coronavirus that has claimed lives and has affected many.”
Fides, the news agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, reported on the guidelines and prayer, which were released in late January.
The Catholic Church has issued safety precautions to aid in limiting the spread of the coronavirus, according to Fides, the news agency for the Evangelization of Peoples. These safety measures, while necessary, may prove disconcerting to traditional Catholics.
The church directs its followers “to follow the health recommendations of experts in order to prevent the spread of the disease.”
Parishes are cautioned to observe specific actions during mass. The Eucharist should be received by hand rather than mouth. Cloths should be placed over the screens of confessionals.
Holy Water should be routinely inspected and changed out of Holy Water Fonts. Parishioners should refrain from holding hands during the “Our Father” and avoid shaking hands during the Sign of Peace.
Members of the faithful also offered the “Oratio Imperata,” during Mass at Catholic churches in the Philippines.
“God our Father we come to You in our need to ask Your protection against the N-coronavirus that has claimed lives and has affected many.” The prayer was endorsed and issued by the Filipino bishops in hopes of quelling the spread of the coronavirus.
The “Oratio Imperata” was introduced Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is to be offered after Communion during weekday Mass and on Sundays throughout all Catholic churches in the Philippines.
The Philippine government also urges citizens to follow health safety measures.
The government recommends that people wash their hands regularly and wear facemasks to decrease the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus.
The virus was first detected in the Wuhan province of China. Over 7,000 people have been infected, with three confirmed cases in the Philippines.