Sick Catholics excused from mass, sign of peace and communion wine could be skipped due to coronavirus

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NEW ORLEANS – The Archdiocese of New Orleans will allow Catholics who are experiencing signs of sickness to skip mass, and priests may suspend the sign of peace and distribution of communion wine as fears about the coronavirus escalate.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond issued a memo to all priests, deacons, and principals outlining the new guidelines on February 28.

In the memo, Aymond asks all “extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to practice good hygiene” by washing their hands or using alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before every mass begins.

Any of the faithful that are sick or experiencing symptoms of sickness “are not obligated to attend Mass,” Aymond wrote, adding that “out of charity,” the sick should choose not to attend Mass.

Two measures are left to the discretion of the pastor: suspending the sign of peace, or encouraging an exchange without physical contact, and “suspending the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful via chalice.”

Those last two restrictions could be enacted throughout the archdiocese if the situation becomes more serious, according to the memo.

Pastors are encouraged to begin adding the following prayer to their services:

“For those who are suffering in the current outbreak of sickness that they might be healed, and for those who have died from this sickness in recent weeks; let us pray to the Lord.”

Archbishop Gregory Aymond

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