CT dioceses take precautions for coronavirus
Some Connecticut dioceses are taking proactive measures in the face of the coronavirus, according to recent announcements.
There have been more than 90,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, according to a Wednesday report from the World Health Organization.
Although there are no confirmed cases of the illness in Connecticut, some churches are taking steps to protect parishioners, including discouraging parishioners from receiving communion on the tongue and suggesting no physical contact during the sign of peace during Mass.
Around 7 p.m. Tuesday Bishop Frank Caggiano from the Diocese of Bridgeport shared an announcement about ways to prevent the spread of the illness.
Caggiano said some members have reached out for directives linked to coronavirus and asked what preventative actions they can take when gathered for worship.
He said from Tuesday going forward, he asks pastors to stop offering the blood of Christ at Mass. Pastors were asked to have low-gluten hosts available for those with an allergy.
Rather than shaking hands at the sign of peace, pastors have been told to tell parishioners to use another gesture — such as a nod of the head, a smile or a spoken greeting. Pastors have also been given the green light to omit the call for an exchange of the sign of peace.
If the practice at the parish is to ask attendees to hold hands during the “Our Father” prayer, the pastor is urged to ask parishioners not to hold hands.
The holy water in the church will be replaced more frequently. The church will ensure all handrails, bathrooms and the tops of pews are properly disinfected. Hand sanitizer will be made available at all church entrances.
Pastors are also urged to remind their parishioners that they are not obligated to attend Sunday Mass if they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
“Please remember to pray for an end to this illness and to keep all those who have died from and who are adversely affected by the coronavirus in your prayers,” Caggiano said.
Similar measures are being implemented at the Archdiocese of Hartford.
In an announcement Tuesday to priests and deacons, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair said communion on the tongue “should be strongly discouraged.” He said collection baskets should only be handled by ushers.
Blair said those who pass out the Holy Communion are urged to practice good hygiene, including washing their hands before Mass begins. He said they could even consider using an alcohol-based antibacterial solution before and after distribution communion.
“I join you and your parishioners in working and praying for an end to this health threat,” Blair said.