Sharing chalice at Mass a minimal risk


The Catholic Church in New Zealand has not as yet prohibited sharing the chalice and sharing a handshake at the sign of peace at Mass.

“Should there be a need for restrictions on receiving Communion or the exchange of the Sign of Peace, these will be immediately notified to parishes throughout the country,” said the acting director of New Zealand’s National Liturgy Father John O’Connor.

O’Connor noted some churches have taken it upon themselves to stop giving holy communion from a communal cup because many of their members had recently come back from China, for example.”

President of the NZ Catholic Bishops Conference, Patrick Dunn says the current advice of health professionals is there is no need to take further precautions.

“Following discussions with health professionals about the implication of COVID-19 Coronavirus on Catholic gatherings for liturgy, our advice is that the current standard procedures for safeguarding health continue to be followed and there is no need for churches to take further precautions at this stage”, Dunn said.

The position follows current literature and expert medical advice that concludes sipping the communion chalice and sharing a handshake represents minimal risk of transmission of COVID-19.

It is also advice provided to members of the Anglican Church in New Zealand.

However, Hilary Babcock, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University, suggests people do not share food utensils, glasses and cups.

“I think that’s higher-risk than if there is a way to allow people to have individual cups or individual containers that they are using and either disposing of or having cleaned afterwards.”

Caitlin Rivers, an infectious disease specialist with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says that although communion wine does contain alcohol, it’s probably not enough to kill the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.


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News category: New Zealand.

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