Officials for the Catholic Church of the Philippines are altering guidelines for Ash Wednesday service in the country amid concerns about the spread of coronavirus, according to a Vatican-run news service.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) advised that priests should sprinkle ashes on the crown of the head, rather than the traditional practice of marking the forehead with a cross, in order to limit body contact and the possibility of transmitting the virus. For Catholics around the world, Lent begins Wednesday and continues for 40 days.
The CBCP advised churchgoers in the Philippines to refrain from other forms of contact during the service, such as kissing or touching the cross.
The revised guidelines are the latest of several instances of Catholic churches in Asia taking preventative measures. Officials in Hong Kong suspended church services in recent weeks and canceled the Ash Wednesday service entirely.