TUCSON, Ariz. — The Diocese of Tucson is urging its parishes to take extra precautions due to COVID-19.
There are several parts of Catholic mass where people come in close contact. The most significant is considered to be Holy Communion, received either by mouth or by hand.
“At this time, because you will without fail will come into contact with somebody’s mouth area, we’ve asked that you please take communion in the hands. That way that can be done with minimizing any contact,” said Steff Koeneman, the director of communications for the Diocese of Tucson.
Practices like holding hands during the Our Father prayer, receiving Holy Communion through the mouth, and expressing The Sign of Peace through touch will all be suspended.
All parishioners are being urged to wash their hands frequently, as well as pastors, especially following mass. The new rules also include stopping the use of Holy Water fonts and the use of the Chalice during congregation.
“As we and the entire country and the world start seeing a decline in the incidents of colds, flu's, and coronavirus, then we can adapt very quickly and go back to optional reception of communion in the traditional way or in the hands,” said Koeneman.
Although the Diocese of Tucson has heard concern from a few local individuals, Koeneman says, it’s following the action taken by many other dioceses across the country.
“One of the actions we’ve asked our parishioners to take is to consider how you feel. If you’re ill, if you know you have a cold or a flu, stay home,” said Koeneman.
She said the Bishop advises to consider staying home as an act of charity.
“The Sunday Obligation is always suspended when someone is home sick. Don’t feel like you’ll be in trouble for not attending mass. We’d rather have you home and healthy and keep everyone else healthy than come in sick,” said Koeneman.
These new rules are said to be in place until further notice.