Archbishops order changes to communion amid coronavirus outbreak

Archbishops order changes to communion amid coronavirus outbreak
© Thinkstock

Several U.S. archbishops have ordered changes to Communion as part of Mass services across the country amid a coronavirus outbreak that has caused at least 10 deaths so far in the Seattle area and sickened dozens across the country.

The Associated Press first reported Thursday that Seattle's Archbishop Paul Etienne urged parishioners who show signs of illness to remain home in a letter to parish leaders. The letter also called for Communion wafers to be delivered by hand instead of onto the tongues of churchgoers.

Churches across the state will also suspend the practice of passing out wine amid the outbreak, according to the AP, a move that other parishes across the country have reportedly followed.

ADVERTISEMENT

Other archbishops have also made similar changes in response to reports of more coronavirus cases in the U.S.: Chicago's archbishop suspended the practice of serving Communion wine from a chalice, while ordering stricter hand-washing and sanitizing procedures for priests.

In Santa Fe, N.M., Archbishop John Wester also directed priests to deliver communion wafers by hand, calling it "every bit as respectful as receiving on the tongue.”

“How we receive, while very personal to the individual communicant, is not crucial,” he added, according to the AP.

The number of reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. currently sits at a little more than 200, while the number of cases around the world is more than 97,000 according to a tracker operated by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 3,300 people have died from the disease, which presents as a form of pneumonia.