Church scraps ‘washing of the feet’ from Holy Week activities

THE Catholic Church announced on Saturday that it will forgo its traditional events during the Holy Week to prevent a possible transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) among the faithful.

This comes after the government, through the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), allowed churches to hold once-a-day religious gatherings in the NCR (National Capital Region) Plus bubble at 10 percent of their seating capacity.

Fr. Genaro Diwa, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission of Liturgy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said the directive was based on the Vatican’s Congregation of Divine Worship order disallowing, among others, the “washing of the feet” on Maundy Thursday.

“You wash the feet and you kiss. So as to avoid the contact, Rome has suggested that we forego or scrap that from our liturgical celebration,” Diwa told reporters in an online briefing organized by the Department of Health (DoH).

In the washing of the feet, the priest during mass reenacts Jesus Christ’s act of humility on his 12 disciples by doing the same to 12 people.

Naval Bishop Rex Ramirez, member of the Commission of Liturgy, reminded the faithful to follow protocols within their community.

“Small gatherings in the chapels, which are enclosed, have been disallowed and discouraged by the parishes, as it cannot be controlled that easily,” Ramirez said.

But Ramirez also conceded that while there will be protocols, they cannot control the devotion of people.

“We give guides, but the devotion of the people are difficult to control, it is not easy for us to control them, but the official celebrations of the church are always done with consultations from authorities,” Ramirez added.

Diwa urged the public that instead of going to church, they can watch the religious activities online.

“We have modified the celebration to contain the essential and maintain the solemnity of the event but also catering to the spiritual needs of those who will join us via live streaming,” Diwa added.