Catholic church to temporarily suspend some traditions over coronavirus concerns

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – With fears over the coronavirus hot on everyone’s mind, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston says it is making changes to some traditions out of precaution.

The Catholic Diocese of Charleston sent out a letter announcing a number of changes designed to help better react to potential coronavirus.

“It’s just a precaution. It’s there and since it’s there and we’re not really sure where yet, they just wanted to get ahead of it,” said Kim Gotz, Church Secretary, St. Phillip Benizi Catholic Church.

While there are no coronavirus cases in South Carolina at this point, on February 25th, the Diocese of Charleston sent notice that, for the time being, the handshake/Kiss of Peace will be suspended. The chalice used to drink the wine during Masses is also being suspended.

“As long as you’re receiving the body of Christ, you’re still receiving the fullness of the Lord; body, soul, blood and divinity, that’s the main source of the food for your soul,” said Gotz.

The changes are in effect until the spread of the disease has safely subsided.

“Also, in the message from the Vicar General said that it was due to the increased concern about the coronavirus – not that it is spreading here – and the flu we’re just gonna go ahead and suspend that until the CDC tells us it’s really not a concern. The priest also have the ability to lift it for Holy Thursday and Easter Vigil.”

The diocese letter also says that anytime people are uncomfortable about potentially spreading illness or germs, it’s appropriate to not have a handshake or to use the chalice.


Due to global concern about the rapid spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), and influenza remaining a worry in many states, the Diocese of Charleston encourages the suspension of the “handshake/kiss of peace” during Masses. Parishes may offer to alter the exchange of peace to another gesture or acknowledgement of the Peace of Christ that still “expresses peace, communion and charity.”

In addition, the distribution of the chalice(s) to the faithful should be suspended until the spread of the diseases has safely subsided. However, pastors may choose to lift that suspension on Holy Thursday and at the Easter Vigil.
According to the Center for Disease Control, most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu either cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. The flu might be passed to another before a person knows he or she is sick.
Please remind people that receiving the Precious Body is to receive the fullness of the Lord — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Refraining from receiving the chalice, or extending a handshake, anytime during the year when one is experiencing the symptoms of an illness should not be seen as disrespecting others in any way. It may be that a person wishes not to transfer his or her germs to others.

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