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Philippine bishops call time on fancy weddings

New liturgical rules limit attendees at sacrament celebrations as part of 'new normal' measures against Covid-19

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Philippine bishops call time on fancy weddings

Couples attend a mass wedding in Manila. New rules will limit the number of attendees at weddings and baptisms when religious gathering are allowed to resume in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Jay Directo/AFP)  

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The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued new liturgical guidelines for the celebration of the sacraments in churches under the “new normal” once the government allows religious gatherings to resume.

The post-coronavirus quarantine guidelines include limiting wedding participants to only the bride and groom, the parents of the couple and a set of sponsors.

“Due to social distancing, wedding celebrations this year will have to be simpler than usual. We have to forego all of the secondary elements of a normal wedding such as the entourage,” the guidelines say.

The Philippines is known to have elaborate church weddings and many guests. A couple usually have 10 pairs of principal sponsors known as “ninongs” and “ninangs”. Secondary sponsors include the groomsmen, bridesmaids, ring and coin bearers, and flower girls.

Church weddings normally cost from 300,000 pesos (US$6,000) to 2 million pesos (US$40,000) depending on the couple’s choice of food, musicians, venue and even makeup artists.

Priests and soon-to-be-married couples have welcomed the guidelines.

“The guidelines actually destroy our [Filipino] idea that weddings should be grand and expensive. Maybe the bishops want to remind us of what the essentials are in a wedding ceremony,” said Frances Oliva, whose marriage was postponed due to the pandemic.

She said having an expensive wedding celebration is “self-imposed” but “not necessary” for couples who want to pledge their love and commitment to one another.

“You know, all these celebrations are really not necessary if you think about it. After all, what counts in marriage is the loyalty and love of couples to each other, right?” she said.

Father Geronimo Borneos of Marbel in Mindanao said couples are reminded to be simple and to focus on their relationship rather than the ceremony.

Meanwhile, the bishops have also imposed rules on baptism by limiting attendees to only the immediate family members of the infant.

Only one or a pair of godparents will be allowed inside the church and everyone is required to wear face masks and observe social distancing.

Holy oils are to be applied using cotton on the one baptized. The cotton with holy oils should be burned after the celebration, the guidelines also say.

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