Rite of Election – virtually

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: I want to thank you for being an invaluable liturgical resource, Your advice is very appreciated.

My question is, during the Pandemic , our RCIA candidates have been attending mass virtually and having classes via zoom. There is now talk of the Rite of Election and the Scrutinies happening virtually.  Do you think they should do this, or possibly wait till they are ready to attend in person?
Thank you for your guidance!


A: Thanks for your comments on my blog.

Concerning unbaptized catechumens, they really should participate in a Rite of Election. They really should participate in the scrutinies. By participating I mean being at church.

Now, this is a pandemic, so we’re making many judgments we never would have justified otherwise.

I can recommend these adjustments:

If the catechumen cannot attend the Rite of Election, then the catechumen should send a proxy so that the godparent’s testimony can be heard and the name can be entered in the book of the elect (RCIA 123). The catechumen can watch all this on a livestream, but the livestream does not make them elect. Only the liturgy can do that.

The bishop may dispense the elect from one or two of the scrutinies (RCIA 34/3). Many bishops are doing this. But the elect should get to one if at all possible. If it’s not possible, let your bishop know. Again, a catechumen can watch something on livestream, but that does not constitute a scrutiny for that catechumen.

You do have the option of waiting until they feel safe to come back. Again, the bishop gives permission for adults to be initiated apart from the Easter Vigil (RCIA 34/2), so you contact his office for advice.