Ebola precautions prompt hands-off Masses in Texas

A diocese in Texas has issued guidelines designed to prevent diseases like Ebola being spread because of physical contact in Masses.

Fort Worth diocese is near Dallas, where three Ebola cases have been diagnosed.

The guidelines include not taking the Blood of Christ at Mass and the faithful not holding hands while praying the Our Father.

The Sign of Peace should not involve physical contact, but some other gesture, the guidelines added.

Priests should use an alcohol-based solution on their hands before and after distributing Holy Communion.

Priests should not distribute Communion if they feel ill, and should discourage parishioners who feel sick from coming to church.

Such restrictions are common during flu season, the diocese emphasised.

But the guidelines did make mention of Ebola.

The US federal government is trying to include faith communities in its efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola, inviting them to join in a conference call on Saturday with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Diocese of Dallas has not issued similar guidelines to Fort Worth’s, but Ebola is much on Bishop Kevin Farrell’s mind.

He offered prayers for the health care workers grappling with Ebola, expressed confidence in local health care authorities and wrote that “this is a time for our community to respond with calmness and compassion”.

Meanwhile, Catholic nurse Nina Pham, the first person to contract Ebola within the US, has received blood serum from a survivor.

A priest at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Fort Worth said Ms Pham’s mother told him she has seen and spoken to her daughter using Skype, and that she is in good spirits.

Authorities do not know how Ms Pham contracted the disease, as she is believed to have followed hospital protocols in treating an Ebola patient, who since died.


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