Changes coming to Catholic masses in Baton Rouge amid coronavirus concerns

Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge announces temporary changes to services amid coronavirus concerns

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Bishop Michael Gerard Duca announced Thursday, March 5 that the Diocese of Baton Rouge will implement some temporary changes to Catholic masses out of concern for the coronavirus.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state, according to the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH).

Bishop Duca says the diocese will not offer the communal cup during the sacrament of Holy Communion. Parishioners will still receive the Eucharist from priests or lay ministers.

Officials with the diocese say parishioners will be asked to refrain from touching each other’s hands during the mass.

Bishop Duca told reporters the changes are out of an abundance of caution and to minimize the possible transmission of diseases.

Church officials are also suggesting people receive communion on the hand and not the tongue. If you wish to receive the communion on the tongue, you can still do so.

“If you are sick, do not come to church. It is not a sin to not come to church if you are sick. In fact, for the sake of not just yourself, you may feel I can make it, but other people with you coughing in church may feel uncomfortable as well. Get well and then come back to church,” Bishop Duca said.

If you cannot make it to mass in Baton Rouge, services will be broadcast at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays on channel 15 and will be repeated at 12:30 p.m. 4:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.

To help prevent the spread of diseases, people should use common hygiene practices such as washing their hands, using sanitizer, and coughing into their arm.

“It’s our hope that these things will provide a safe environment. Like I said, someone who feels robust in their health might feel like I’m not really afraid, but people whose health is compromised..." Bishop Duca said.

Church officials say these changes are temporary and they are just trying to understand the effects of the virus and make people feel comfortable.

"I want them to feel safe when they come to church. These are simple measures that we can do. They don’t change substantially the quality of the worship and I think they will be big steps to make people feel more comfortable coming to church,” Bishop Duca said.

Bishop Duca advises the same protocol for ministers making house calls to offer communion.

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