Scrutinies and COVID-19

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Some questions have come up about the scrutinies in the context of precautions for COVID-19. 

  1. Do the scrutinies have to be celebrated in a Mass? 
  • RCIA 146: they “should take place within the ritual Masses” for the scrutinies
  • RCIA 150 seems to assume a Mass
  • But RCIA 144 and 145 mention that a deacon may be the “presiding celebrant.”
  • And RCIA 155 on the Dismissal gives a formula for option D “if the eucharist is not to be celebrated.”
  • RCIA 20 and 30 allow for weekday celebration, but doesn’t explicitly mention if this may be outside Mass.

The last two references suggest the possibility of having the scrutinies outside.  But is this option given explicitly in the text anywhere? 

  1. Is at least one scrutiny absolutely required?
  • RCIA 20 permits the bishop to dispense from one “for serious reasons” or “in extraordinary circumstances, even from two.” But dispensing from all three is not mentioned. 
  • This is also the case in the section on Adaptations by the Bishop in RCIA 34.3

Is it possible for the bishop to dispense from all three?  Perhaps this is a canonical rather than liturgical question. 

Also, have you seen any information about what churches of various denominations or dioceses are doing about immersion baptisms?  Are churches avoiding it in case of possible transmission? 

Thank you so much!  


A: Due to the paragraphs you cite, I conclude that scrutinies may be celebrated apart from mass.

Similarly, one scrutiny is expected. Could a bishop dispense? That’s a canonical question beyond me. But the RCIA includes a ritual for adult baptism in exceptional circumstances, and that could apply.

From what I’ve seen on various sites, people are planning on baptism by pouring.