Archdiocese suspends drinking from Holy Communion Chalice amid coronavirus fears

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston-area Archdiocese Cardinal Daniel DiNardo advised Saturday that parishioners limit physical contact at mass.

In the wake of the spread of coronavirus, the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese has called upon area parishes to suspend the distribution of Holy Communion from the Chalice and distribute Holy Communion only under the form of the Host, out of precaution.

Typically, at most mass ceremonies, parishioners would drink wine from a chalice for communion, but DiNardo is requesting that practice be limited until further notice.

Instead, parishioners will only receive the "Host," typically a form of bread, during the ceremony.

DiNardo believes the elimination of Communion from the Chalice "should help minimize any risk for the members of the liturgical assembly who present themselves for the reception of the Holy Eucharist."

Additionally, DiNardo said that anyone who is ill is under no obligation to be present for Sunday Mass.

He said that parishioners should take some "common sense steps" regarding their heath, including respecting that some people may be uncomfortable with physical contact during times of Mass such as the Lord's Prayer and the Sign of Peace.

DiNardo also recommended persons receive the Holy Communion by hand, instead of it being placed in their mouth by the ministers, though he is not demanding it.

RELATED: Washington declares state of emergency after 1st US coronavirus death

The announcement from the Archdiocese came hours after the governor of Washington state declared a state of emergency after a man died there of COVID-19, marking the first such reported death in the United States.

The U.S. has about 60 confirmed cases. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.

Most infections result in mild symptoms, including coughing and fever, though some can become more serious and lead to pneumonia. Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are especially vulnerable. Health officials think it spreads mainly from droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads.

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