The Diocese of Joliet has asked parishes to “err on the side of caution” as the spread of the coronavirus worries officials around the world.
In a letter, Bishop Richard E. Pates asked all diocese parishes and institutions to immediately suspend the shaking of hands or other physical contact during the sign of the peace, and to stop the distribution of wine during the Eucharist, according to a message from the diocese.
St. Mary Immaculate Parish in Plainfield posted Pates’ letter on its Facebook page.
“These cautions will remain in force until such time as prudence dictates that our normal practices be resumed,” according to the post.
Pates also asked ministers to wash their hands before Mass and use alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after communion. He said anyone who was sick or displaying symptoms was “not obliged” to attend Mass.
“At this time, because of unknown dimensions of this virus and its rapid spreading worldwide, prudence and prayer are called for,” Pates wrote.
Pope Francis celebrated the beginning of Lent Wednesday in Rome as other Masses were canceled because of a rise in cases of the virus in Italy.
In the U.S., President Donald Trump tried to calm fears about the spread of the virus.