Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bishops lift swine flu restrictions

From New Zealand-

Restrictions at Catholic churches brought in because of the swine flu outbreak will be lifted from Saturday.

Bishops banned potentially infective behaviour at Masses in June because of the potential for the flu to be transmitted.

In a pastoral letter, the bishops asked priests to stop distributing communion wafers to the tongues of parishioners, giving communion wine from the chalice and holding anointing Masses for the sick.

On medical advice the bishops recommended people either take communion hosts in the hand or make a spiritual communion, which does not involve consuming the host.

The bishops also asked congregations to avoid bodily contact at liturgies, for example shaking hands at the "sign of peace".

Priests and ministers of communion have been urged to use alcohol-based hand sanitisers before and after distributing communion.

Today the bishops said information from the Health Ministry and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research showed the influenza situation in New Zealand had almost returned to normal for this time of year.

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