Global concerns of coronavirus have led to suggested changes at mass for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington (CDOW) and around the world.
Bishop Francis Malooly is asking parishes to assure the faithful that attending mass is not necessary for those who are sick.
"Even that out of charity, they ought not to attend," said Malooly. "Those who are sick with contagious ailments are encouraged to stay home and not attend church services. Missing Mass because of an illness is not a sin."
No more shaking hands
Until further notice, the sign of the peace has been suspended. Instead, Malooly recommends greeting one another with a bow and the words “Peace be with you.”
CDOW is also calling for a suspension of all hand-holding during the Lord's Prayer at mass.
Distribution of Holy Communion
Parishioners always have the option to receive Communion on their tongue or in their hands. No prohibition may be made by any pastor, priest, or other minister against either of these options. Ministers should be advised to take care not to touch the tongue or hand of communicants.
All use of the chalice will be suspended until further notice.
All priests, deacons, altar servers, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are strongly urged to wash their hands immediately before and after Mass. Likewise, they should use an alcohol-based, anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion, discerning how to do this while maintaining the reverence of the Mass.
Keeping Parishes Clean
Malooly is also asking that all vessels used at Mass, once purified, be thoroughly washed with soap and hot water after each use, and that all holy water fonts are drained, cleaned, and sanitized regularly.
"Alternately, they may be drained and remain empty at the discretion of each pastor," he said.
He also called for the regular disinfecting of door knobs and tops of pews.