Ebola: Catholic Church suspends ‘sign of peace’ ritual during Mass

As the fear of the spread of Ebola virus sweeps across Nigeria, Catholic priests have been told to skip the traditional rite of peace during mass.

The rite of peace also known as the sign of peace, involves shaking hands of fellow congregants. According to Catholic Online, the sign of peace is intended for religious communion and mutual charity among members.

In a statement released by the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Adewale Martins, “titled: The Outbreak of Ebola Virus – a pastoral approach, Mr. Martins said the rite is optional.

“Taking into consideration the fact that this rite is optional, we shall henceforth omit it i.e. not invite people to offer the sign of peace. When you get to this rite, skip it. Note also, that the recent Circular from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments acknowledged this when it stated: “It is completely legitimate to affirm that it is not necessary to invite ‘mechanistically’ to exchange the sign of peace,” he said.

The Archbishop told priest to maintain the traditional hand to mouth method of given Holy Communion until a decision is reached on the issue next week when the bishops of the province meet. He, however, advised them to be mindful and not to allow their hands touch the tongues of recipients.

Mr. Martins said Holy Water bowls usually placed at the entrance of churches should be discontinued to contain the spread of virus. Priest were also advised to maintain extra caution when making sick calls at home and hospital and they should ensure that they wash their hands with anti-bacteria hand wash and sanitizer after performing the rite of Anointing of the Sick.

He also told priest to encourage that those responsible for counting offerings where protective gloves.

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