The guideline has been issued on par with the central government’s directive that there should be no offerings like ‘prasad’ inside religious places.

No holy communion during mass Catholic Bishops body issues guidelinesPTI / Image for representation
Coronavirus Church Tuesday, June 09, 2020 - 15:32

With a majority of religious institutions in the country reopening from Monday after the lockdown, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has issued guidelines on preventive measures to be followed by churches. Of these, the most important guideline is that there will be no distribution of ‘holy communion’, considered an important sacrament for Christian devotees, during mass in church.

The guideline has been issued on par with the central government’s directive that there should be no offerings like ‘prasad’ inside religious places. However, the guidelines, dated June 7 and issued by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, state that the offering can be distributed outside the church, after the religious mass inside the church is over.

“Communion can be distributed in neighbouring halls, in the eucharistic chapel or in small designated areas outside the church. In a restricted way, the faithful may be given holy communion only on the hand. If he (priests) accidentally touches someone’s hand, he should immediately stop and sanitise his hand before resuming distribution,” the guidelines state.

The church association also states that only one-third of the church’s capacity should be occupied at a time during religious ceremonies inside churches. 

“Holy (blessed) water stoups should be kept dry. There should be no sprinkling with holy water,” the guidelines add. Choirs will also not be permitted inside churches.

Meanwhile, though major Catholic churches in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have opened, in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu things are different. In Tamil Nadu, no religious institutions have been allowed to open. In Kerala, though the state government has given sanction to open with places of worship with restrictions, a majority of the dioceses have said they will not be opening churches soon. The churches of Syro Malabar Catholic Church under the Ernakaulam-Angamaly archdiocese will remain closed till June 30.

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