Bishop Michael McCarthy.
Bishop Michael McCarthy.

Holy water removed from CQ churches amid Coronavirus fear

HOLY WATER has been removed from churches and handshakes are to be avoided as the Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton takes precautions against coronavirus.

A letter was released by the Bishop of Rockhampton Reverend Michael McCarthy last week.

The letter stated the diocese had been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on communities in Australia and overseas.

As a result of this, the following safe practices have been adopted for worship services.

• Individuals should consider their own health, including any potential to infect others with

a contagious disease, before attending a public liturgical celebration.

• Holy Water should be temporarily removed from stoups at the doors of churches to

reduce the possibility of transmission of the virus. Holy Water should continue to be

available for people to take home.

• Parishes and other settings where liturgies are celebrated should make alcohol-based

gels or rubs (or like products) available near entrances. Similar provisions should be

considered for settings used for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

• When exchanging the Sign of Peace, individuals should avoid shaking hands but say

"Peace be with you" and offer a smile, wave, nod or bow.

• All Ministers of Holy Communion should take particular care to wash their hands before

and after distributing. Appropriate means should be made available.

• Parishes should cease distributing Holy Communion from the Chalice until further notice.

The faithful should be reminded that Christ is fully present under either species.

• The coronavirus is easily spread through saliva. In celebrations of the Ordinary Form of

the Latin Rite, it is therefore recommended that the Body of Christ only be administered

in the hand because of the high risk of transmission if people continue to receive on the

tongue. Ministers should seek to avoid contact with the communicant's hands.

• The faithful who are too unwell to attend Sunday Mass - whether due to coronavirus or some other condition - or are at particular risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus can honour their Sunday obligation by participating in a time of prayer within the home, reading the Scriptures or watching Mass on television or online. Within the Rockhampton Diocese the 9.30am Sunday Mass from St Joseph's Cathedral can be viewed online at:

• All involved in other parish ministries, particularly to the sick and elderly, refrain from

undertaking ministry if they feel unwell or believe they could have been exposed to the

virus. As per previous advice hand washing should be undertaken before and after and

individuals should follow the advice and practices of the local health authority.

• Collectors and those who handle and count money may consider wearing gloves, in

addition to hand washing, while the virus is present in the community.

• If you have recently travelled to Italy, Iran, South Korea or China in the past 14 days and

know you have exposed to the virus, it is best to self-quarantine and stay at home.

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