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US bishops: No widespread liturgical changes in wake of swine flu

Catholic World News - April 30, 2009

Noting that “the need for the introduction of widespread liturgical adaptations for the prevention of the transmission of influenza in the dioceses of the United States of America is not evident at this time,” the Committee on Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has published answers to ten questions about swine flu and the liturgy.

In answer to the question, “What measures should be taken in Roman Catholic liturgies in the United States of America now?” the committee responds:

Priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion should be especially reminded of the need to practice good hygiene. Ministers of Holy Communion 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.

The committee observes that in those dioceses most affected by the disease, “bishops have introduced several liturgical adaptations in regard to such practices as the distribution of Holy Communion and the exchange of the Sign of Peace in order to limit the spread of contagion.”

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