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Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg suspends shaking of hands, serving of blessed or consecrated wine

Bishop encouraging parishioners to receive Body of Christ in the hand, rather than under the tongue.

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — Bishop Gregory Parkes has issued three new directives to protect the health and safety of churchgoers in the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

Effective March 12, 2020, the following directives will remain in place until further notice:

  • The communal distribution of the Precious Blood from the cup will be temporarily suspended. Our faith teaches us that we receive the fullness of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Consecrated Host.
  • All Holy Water fonts will be emptied, including the baptismal font. 
  • Hand-to-hand and any other physical contact are to be avoided, including at the Sign of Peace. 

As a reminder, individuals should stay home from Mass, church activities and school if they are feeling sick, have a family member who is sick or has an immune system that is compromised. 

RELATED: President Trump suspends travel from Europe to US for 30 days over coronavirus 

Bishop Parkes continues to encourage parishioners to consider reverently receiving the Body of Christ in the hand, rather than on the tongue. 

In addition, the following guidelines have been issued, as a supplement to the original diocesan guidelines of March 2:

Communion to the Sick and Homebound:

  • Do not visit people if you do not feel well.
  • Call ahead of time to make sure the communicant will be available and can take visitors. If they are not feeling well, postpone the visit to a later date when they are feeling better.
  • Refrain from physical contact when visiting.
  • Before giving Holy Communion be sure that you have washed your hands with soap and water and/or use a hand sanitizer (60% alcohol content) and then wash or sanitize your hands afterward.
  • Do not linger in your visit.
  • Regarding nursing homes, assisted living facilities or hospitals, many of these institutions are already closing their doors to visitors.  You may need to contact the facility ahead of time to see whether they will allow the visit by the EMHC and then follow their protocols.

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