by NZ CATHOLIC staff
Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn has called on faith communities to incorporate “the very best hygiene procedures to ensure that any risk of the spread of illnesses is kept to minimum”.
Bishop Dunn noted that from time to time concerns are raised by parishioners about the spread of
illnesses though Communion and the sharing of the Sign of Peace.
He said in 2009, at the height of the bird flu epidemic, New Zealand bishops reminded everyone that Catholics gather in their churches not as individuals but as the Body of Christ.
He quoted from the 2009 statement: “It is also as a people that we care for the wellbeing of one
another and are reminded of the call to implement hygienic practices to safeguard the health of all, especially when colds, viruses and infections abound in the winter season.”
Bishop Dunn suggested several measures to take in the season of flu viruses, colds and cold sores.
• Wash hands before Mass. Use a handkerchief or tissue for sneezing and blowing your nose.
• If you have any level of unwellness, cough into the crook of your arm or sleeve to minimise the spread of germs to others.
• If you usually receive on the tongue, please receive on the hand if you have a cold. Refrain from receiving from the chalice.
• As a parish, discuss a variety of ways that the Sign of Peace may be exchanged — looking directly at each person and extending the greeting verbally, using a slight bow of the head as extending the greeting verbally.
However, Bishop Dunn said, when suffering from infections that can quickly pass from one to
another, it is advisable to stay at home.
“If unwell, remain at home and make a spiritual Communion. St Thomas Aquinas has defined this
as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament [in Communion at Mass] and in
lovingly embracing him as if we had actually received him,” he said.
“Compose yourself as you would at Mass, desire the Lord’s presence in spirit, pray in thanksgiving for the gift of the Lamb of God, and receive the graces as if you had been able to partake in Holy Communion.”