MAY is normally a month when First Communions are held for children across the province, and now the bishop of Almeria has raised the possibility ceremonies could restart in a couple of weeks’ time.
Adolfo Gonzalez Montes said it would depend on the criteria of the parish priests and of the parents, and would have to be held with small groups of children together with their mums and dads, and with the churches at no more than 30 per cent of capacity.
In a letter to the faithful about the resumption of religious services, the bishop also noted that if the coronavirus pandemic curve continued to move in the right direction, under phase two of the de-escalation churches will be allowed to be at 50 per cent of capacity.
Gonzalez Montes said this meant that first communions should be able to be held next month and over into the first two weeks of July, if parish priests and parents agree.
Commenting on weddings, the bishop made it clear that the same regulations on maximum capacity in churches will apply, and said the return to normality will have to be “with restrictions and safety measures,” with social distancing and the use of face masks.
The traditional Corpus Christi procession will not go ahead, he revealed, “due to its character of mass participation.”
He called on priests to “organise the celebration of holy mass on that day week, avoiding a throng of faithful,” suggesting the ceremony is held twice.
He also made a series of observations about safety measures in the administration of the sacraments, washing hands before and after, or using cotton wool or cotton bud depending on the place and the state of health of the person receiving the sacraments.
“The most contagious are the many hands on the sacred vessels and in the preparation of offerings,” he commented.
He made it clear that where the administration of the Blessed Sacrament is concerned, it must be received without directly touching the priest’s hand.
He further advised not filling fonts with holy water until the coronavirus pandemic is over.
The bishop made particular mention of the “difficulties” to “survive” faced by Almeria’s hospitality sector, pointing out the majority are family businesses.