Catholic Church announces temporary changes to combat swine flu

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Catholic Church in Utah is taking steps to help prevent the spread of swine flu. Sunday, priests announced several temporary changes to Mass.

Among the changes churchgoers noticed: When congregates reached into the holy water font, it was empty. When they filed forward to partake of communion, there was no wine to be sipped from a communal cup. Also, wafers were placed in their hands instead of being placed on their tongues.


The temporary changes were ordered by Bishop John C. Wester of the Diocese of Salt Lake City in a letter read on Sunday. Priests around the state told their congregations the changes are to help curb the spread of the H1N1 virus and encouraged them to accept the changes as an act of charity toward their neighbors.

Other temporary changes include:

  • No hand shaking by ministers and greeters before or after Mass
  • No hand holding during the singing of the Our Father Prayer
  • Church officials have been asked to discreetly use hand sanitizers before and after communion and to no longer provide individual blessings by placing their hands on the heads of children and others who do not receive communion.

The letter also asked members who are sick to stay home from church. ------

Story compiled with contributions from Shara Park and Randall Jeppesen.

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