Citing flu outbreak, Bishop Jenky suggests temporary changes in liturgy practices
EDITOR’S NOTE: Citing flu outbreak concerns being reported by area hospitals, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has suggested a series of temporary changes for liturgical practices in the Diocese of Peoria. Following is the full text of his letter sent to all parishes on Thursday, Jan. 16.
To the Pastors, Priests, Deacons, Religious, and Faithful of the Diocese of Peoria:
Local hospitals report that Central Illinois is now in the midst of a serious flu crisis. Common sense and good pastoral care would seem to indicate that there be some temporary changes to our liturgical practice.
For the time being, communicants should be “encouraged” to receive the Eucharist on the hand rather than on the tongue. If they do receive on the tongue, they should take care to open their mouths widely and extend their tongue as far as possible.
According to the judgement of the pastor, the “Kiss of Peace” and the distribution of the Precious Blood may be suspended.
Eucharistic Ministers and Sacristans should take special care to sterilize all the sacred vessels after the ritual purification.
The faithful should be reminded that there is no obligation to attend Mass when one is ill. In fact, it would be better for the common good to stay home.
Eucharistic Ministers making home, nursing home, and hospital visits should take special care.
This is a good moment to take the time to further catechize the faithful about the Eucharist, the Real Presence, and Sacramental Signs. People should be kept informed and prepared but not over react. Churches are no more dangerous in the flu season than are friends’ homes, shopping malls, banks, gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, schools, or offices. Everywhere it is a good idea to frequently wash your hands.
When the flu outbreak subsides, parishes should resume their normal liturgical practices.
May God bless and protect you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.,
BISHOP OF PEORIA