Why holy water has been removed from our churches
CATHOLICS in Northern NSW have been directed to stop using holy water in their churches to protect their flock from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Parishes are also being advised to stop shaking hands as a sign-of-peace during mass, and people are also being told to stay home if they feel unwell.
The new measures were announced in an 'ad clerum', or message to the clergy, sent by the Catholic Bishop of Lismore, Gregory Homeming, via parish newsletters.
"Since the Australian Government has indicated that there has been transmission of COVID-19 virus within Australia, I must, in accord with specialist medical advice, make some rulings concerning the celebration of mass in our Diocese," the Bishop said in the letter.
The six rulings stated in the message were:
1. In order to prevent the passing of the virus from hand to hand, there will be no sign-of-peace until further notice.
2. To prevent the possibility of the transmission of droplets from one person to another during the reception of communion, all communion will be given on the hand and not on the tongue until further notice.
3. The chalice will not be shared with the congregation.
4. In these circumstances, should members of the parish be feeling unwell, they are relieved from the obligation of attending Sunday mass. Sick people should not attend mass.
5. A reminder to all special ministers of the Eucharist to sanitise their hands with sanitising gel before distribution.
6. Holy water will not be used at the entrances of churches.
A spokesman for the Lismore Catholic Diocese explained that holy water will be available to those who require it, by request to local priests, but not at the entrance of churches.
"Let us pray for the protection of our people and the end of this virus,' Bishop Homeming said at the end of his message.
The Catholic Lismore Diocese includes parishes in Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay, Bellingen, Candem, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Kingscliff, Kyogle, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah, Nambucca Valley, Port Macquarie, Sawtell, Tweed Heads, Wauchope and other villages.