Catholic Church leaders throughout Southern California have altered or suggested changes in their worship service practices amid concerns of the spread of the new coronavirus, church officials said Saturday.
The dioceses serving Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties issued statements to parishes in recent days highlighting the changes, which include a ban on communion by cup, receiving the bread from hand to mouth, and holding and shaking hands during prayer and greetings.
While the diocese of Orange made the restrictions mandatory, the diocese of San Bernardino, serving San Bernardino and Riverside counties, said on its website the changes are optional for parishes.
In the communion ceremony, worshipers are given a wafer and may sip wine from a chalice, or dip the wafer in the chalice before putting it in their mouths. A minister may place the wafer directly into a worshiper’s mouth, or can drop the wafer into their hand.
Church officials in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties are also advising ministers to wash or sanitize their hands before communion. Rather than shaking hands at the end of the service, worshipers were encouraged to make eye contact, smile, or bow their heads.
The archdiocese of Los Angeles, in a memo issued to its clergy on Thursday, said it won’t issue any restrictions, but encouraged “vigilance and discretion” and to use “common sense and good hygiene,” giving similar suggestions as its counterparts across the region.
Though the diocese elected against mandatory restrictions, some individual Los Angeles-area Catholic churches have decided to suspend the giving of wine during communion until the concern of the virus had passed. Among them was St. Pancratius Church in Lakewood.
The above comes from a Feb. 29 story in the Orange County Register.
The diocese of San Diego is taking a wait-and-see approach:
When State or County health authorities determine that the risk of transmitting the virus has reached a certain threshold, the Bishop then suspends the cup for Holy Communion and many times the Sign of Peace.