COVID-19 worries prompt Saskatoon Catholic churches to remove holy water, common communion cup
Communion wafers (Flickr/ awareness campaign)
SASKATOOON -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has that it’s temporarily restricting some liturgical practices in its parishes across the city due to growing concern about the spread of COVID-19.
In a letter posted on its website Tuesday, the diocese said pastors, deacons and extraordinary ministers must wash their hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based sanitizer before and after distributing communion.
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The diocese is also asking people to refrain from personal contact such as handshaking at the sign of peace during mass, and said instead, people can take a bow or share a spoken word of peace.
It also states that ministers choosing to make visits to those who are sick for sacramental or pastoral care must also maintain good sanitary practices at all times.
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Parishes will also be discontinuing the common cup for communion and removing holy water from church fonts.
The website said these are similar steps taken by the diocese in 2009 in response to H1N1.
"We have been coordinating with the Archdiocese of Regina to monitor the situation regularly. If necessary, further directives may be required. However, we hope and pray that these temporary directives will not be needed for too long," said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in a letter to priests, parish leaders and church-goers Tuesday.
On Thursday, the province confirmed Saskatchewan's first presumptive case of the illness, a 60-year-old man living in Saskatoon.
The Public Health Authority of Canada says the risk of COVID-19 remains low for Canadians, but said it continues to monitor the situation and is prepared to act should an outbreak occur.