SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The threat of spreading germs is temporarily changing some time-honored traditions in local catholic churches.
Most Reverend Francis Malone, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport is urging parishioners to take some extra health precautions when attending mass. This is primarily due to coronavirus concerns.
Nadalie Thomas has attended mass at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church for decades.
“We are a small church, so we are very close,” said Thomas. “So, there is a lot of hands-on in this parish.”
But in a memo to church leaders, Bishop Malone is urging parishioners to be a little more hands-off.
“It’s gonna be a little different,” said Thomas, “but it’s for the good and for the health of everybody.”
Bishop Malone said he’s asking people to avoid hand-holding or hand-shaking at church services for the time being.
“We’re asking them not to do that, because it would be so easy to transmit, if you had something on your hands, to others,” said Bishop Malone.
Most of the new directives are ceentered around the distribution of Holy Communion. These include a recommendation that parishioners receive communion in their hands, instead of their tongues. Those who distribute the bread are asked to sanitize their hands before and after passing it out. In addition, priests are asked to not offer drinking from a communal cup for communion.
“It doesn’t change the essence or the power of the celebration of the mass, or the sacrament itself,” said Bishop Malone.
But, it does change the spirit of the service, which is an adjustment churchgoers like Thomas are trying to take in stride.
“We just have to always remember that God is with us,” said Thomas.
Bishop Malone is also asking prayers for finding a cure to coronavirus be included in the Prayers of the Faithful at mass. He said bishops across the country are issuing similar recommendations to their church members.