The Catholic Diocese of Wichita has directed parishioners at Mass to no longer shake hands, hold hands during prayer or share the Communion cup due to coronavirus concerns.
Bishop Carl Kemme wrote in a letter to the Wichita Diocese on coronavirus on Wednesday that the preventive steps are being taken related to the celebration of the liturgy, even though no confirmed cases have been reported in Kansas.
"The following omissions are to begin effective immediately," Kemme said, "and continue until further communication from the Office of the Bishop:"
– The Exchange of the Sign of Peace is to be omitted
– The distribution of the Precious Blood is to be omitted
– The practice of holding hands during the Our Father is to be discontinued
The bishop also advised church ministers of communion to practice good hygiene - specifically to wash their hands before Mass or to use an alcohol-based anti-bacterial solution before and after communion. They are also asked to find a substitute if they feel sick.
"The Office of the Bishop will continue to monitor the situation of the coronavirus within our own diocese," Kemme said. "I ask that you please be in constant communication with us especially if you learn of a case of the coronavirus within your parish. We will monitor the situation and continue to take the necessary steps to ensure the health of all the faithful in the diocese."
State health officials said in a Wednesday news conference that coronavirus, or COVID-19, is likely to eventually spread to Kansas.