Ebola: Nigerian Catholics, Anglicans ban handshake during service, stop direct feeding during Holy Communion

Posted by News Express | 11 August 2014 | 5,369 times

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Leaders of the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion in Nigeria have announced the alteration of their churches’ traditional way of worship as part of measures to check the likely spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which entered the country late last month, triggering a medical emergency.

Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Eminence, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, in a statement issued yesterday through the Director of Social Communications in the archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Patrick Alumunku, directed that, until further notice, the Holy Communion should be administered on the palm of the faithful as against placing it on his or her tongue. He also directed the stoppage of handshake by worshippers usually done during consecration of the Holy Communion as a sign of peace.

According to the statement, “Due to the prevailing national situation on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), I am directing that the following pastoral guidelines should be observed throughout our Archdiocese till further notice.

“The sign of peace should be omitted at Mass, Communion in the hand is highly recommended and should be encouraged (unless for those who insist on receiving on the tongue).”

Cardinal Onaiyekan also directed that special intercessory prayers should be offered during the holy mass against the spread of EVD.

Similarly, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, the Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, yesterday suspended shaking of hands during communion.

An Anglican Church statement said: “He therefore announced the suspension of the shaking of hands during exchange of the peace, and also the age-long mouth method of administering communion.

“Primate Okoh while delivering a sermon at the Cathedral Church of The Advent Life Camp Abuja said communicants would from yesterday dip bread in the wine and into their mouths. This is aimed at preventing the spread of the disease – if it exists – through physical contact.

“Communicants adhered strictly to this instruction while receiving the communion in the church yesterday.

“The Primate said other stringent measures would be announced in September after the meeting of the Church in council in Enugu.

“He said it was exigent for the church to take drastic measures to curb the fast spread of the deadly disease.

“The Primate however allayed the fears of the congregation that the Almighty God is always there to protect those who have abiding faith in Him.”

•NAN photo shows Rev. Fr. Ralph Asika (L), presenting the Holy Communion on parishioner’s hand, rather than on the tongue . . . yesterday at St Paul’s Catholic Church Gwagwalada, Abuja.

Source: News Express

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