Church addresses Coronavirus fears

Fears of the coronavirus have led Mullingar parish to advise Mass-goers that they don’t have to shake hands during the sign of peace.

The church has, however, stopped short of banning the handshake just yet.

The weekend’s parish bulletin said that understandably, parishioners had fears about coronavirus, and also of flu.

It advised that in this context, alternative actions were acceptable. “Common sense dictates that people would exercise good hand hygiene practices at all times, but especially in a time of increased risk,” the bulletin stated.

“In or Irish tradition, the standard liturgical sign of peace is the shaking of hands,” the item continued, going on to advise that in the circumstances where it seemed inappropriate to shake hands, another gesture was fine.

The note suggested that Mass-goers simply turn to the other person and say ‘Peace be with you’, or that, alternatively, they acknowledge the other person by the wave of a hand.

An assurance was given that Ministers of Communion will wash their hands in the church sacristy prior to Mass.

The parish has also promised that it will continue to monitor the situation, “and if there is a serious risk, will act on it immediately”.

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