No prayer against swine flu?

May 1, 2009

swine-flu-mass-1Jim Forsyth, our stringer in San Antonio, Texas, reports:

San Antonio has been hard hit by the swine flu, but if local Roman Catholics go to Mass to pray for deliverance from the disease, they may not get the relief they had hoped for. Archbishop Jose Gomez has issued a letter to priests in the archdiocese recommending they make changes in the Mass because of the swine flu outbreak.

“I am requesting that you offer Holy Communion under only one species, bread only,” Gomez told his priests. “Also, during the Lord’s Prayer, please suspend the holding of hands and the shaking of hands or embracing during the sign of peace.”

“Common sense would dictate that washing of hands by ministers and others who come in contact with people can be effective in preventing the spread of swine flu,” Gomez wrote.

swine-flu-mass-2The archbishop also held out the possibility of not holding church services at all if public health officials say gatherings may spread swine flu.

San Antonio, the oldest continuously operating Catholic diocese in the United States, has also been one of the areas hit hardest by the outbreak, with tens of thousands of students out of class due to school closings. Gomez, a native of Mexico, also asked his parishioners to pray for the families in Mexico who lave lost loved ones due to the swine flu outbreak there.

(Photos: Catholics attend Mass in Mexico City’s cathedral, 26 April 2009/Eliana Aponte)
No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see