Flu fears are already changing the face of some religious services, from Mexico where church gatherings are discouraged to the United States where wine shared from a common cup has been suspended in some parishes. We’ve already blogged about this but offer more detail from other places here.
U.S. Catholic bishops have issued general guidelines saying clergy and lay ministers who distribute communion wafers “should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins, or even to use an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.”
“They should instruct people who feel ill not to receive from the cup,” containing wine which Catholics believe becomes the blood of Jesus Christ during Mass.
And while the bishops’ Committee on divine Worship said it does not see the need for widespread changes in liturgy, some churches have already made then.
In Texas where border communities have been hit by flu cases Bishop Raymundo Pena of the Diocese of Brownsville has asked priests to offer only bread to communicants, give communion in the hand and not on the tongue and ask parishioners not to hold hands during recitation of the Lord’s Prayer or to shake hands at the sign of peace during Mass.