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Churches making temporary changes to mass, services over coronavirus concerns

Posted at 5:11 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 21:06:20-05

Churches are making changes to mass and church services over concerns of the coronavirus.

Most Reverend Joe Vásquez, Bishop of Austin for the Diocese of Austin, asked parishes to temporarily distribute the Holy Communion in the hand rather than the tongue. Bishop Vasquez added that clergy and eucharistic ministers should not deny parishioners the Eucharist over this measure.

Bishop Vásquez also requested a temporary end to the distribution of the Precious Blood at Mass.

Standing basins of Holy Water, such as stoups at church doors, should also be removed, according to the Diocese. Holy Water fonts that circulate and filter water can remain operable.

Pastors may ask parishioners to forgo holding hands during the Lord's Prayer and to offer the Sign of Peace without handshaking.

“These temporary changes were made in consultation with clergy and public health officials to safeguard our parishes from the spread of illness and to protect the health of the whole community,” Bishop Vásquez said.

The Diocese says similar changes were made during outbreaks of MRSA and the swine flu.

Bishop Vásquez said parishes will be notified when the temporary measures are lifted.

The Diocese of Austin is made up of more than 120 churches in 25 Central Texas counties with more than 625,000 Catholics.