Trinidad: No more wine, holy water at Roman Catholic Masses

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Trinidad: No more wine, holy water at Roman Catholic Masses
Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon officiating at last year’s Good Friday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port-of-Spain.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon officiating at last year’s Good Friday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port-of-Spain.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – The Ro­man Church in Trinidad and To­ba­go has ceased serv­ing wine among sev­er­al oth­er pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures as the threat of the spread of the coro­n­avirus looms large over the Caribbean.

Some of the oth­er ma­jor changes tak­ing ef­fect yes­ter­day in­clude Holy Com­mu­nion on­ly be­ing dis­trib­uted in the hand and not on the tongue. The arch­dio­cese al­so stat­ed that no holy wa­ter, usu­al­ly present at the en­trance of church­es, will not be dis­pensed for mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion.

The sign of peace will al­so no longer be a hand­shake, with the church en­cour­ag­ing parish­ioners to “make a small bow in­stead”.

Ro­man Catholic Arch­bish­op Ja­son Gor­don said the mea­sures were im­ple­ment­ed be­cause the church is tak­ing every pre­cau­tion pos­si­ble as the coun­try braces for the pos­si­ble threat. How­ev­er, on­ly on Tues­day, the arch­dio­cese had re­leased a state­ment say­ing it would not be chang­ing its litur­gi­cal cel­e­bra­tions just yet.

Yes­ter­day, how­ev­er, Arch­bish­op Gor­don said of the change of heart, “The Min­istry of Health upped the guide­lines for the whole coun­try and we’re keep­ing pace with their guide­lines, so as they up, we up.”

He added that not dis­trib­ut­ing wine will not have as big an im­pact as peo­ple may think, as many mass­es usu­al­ly are cel­e­brat­ed with­out the blood of Christ be­ing served to the faith­ful.

“Re­strict­ing one or the oth­er is not a new thing. Many times Mass­es will not dis­trib­ute un­der both body and blood. We’re re­strict­ing in the abun­dance of all cau­tion,” the Ro­man Catholic head said.

He went fur­ther in ex­plain­ing the de­ci­sions made by the in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary team of the church, say­ing, “Why no re­ceiv­ing on the tongue, be­cause that’s an easy way for con­ta­gion. If a small par­ti­cle on your fin­gers go­ing in­to the mouth of the next per­son, that’s one way of trans­port­ing the virus. Why no chal­ice? Well, that’s an­oth­er way con­ta­gion. So all the ways, the holy fount be­cause of the sponge that re­sides in it you put your hand in, the next per­son puts their hand in, the virus can link.”

Arch­bish­op Gor­don said if the coro­n­avirus should come to this coun­try, his church will be ready to be part of the re­sponse.

He said, “There is no spe­cif­ic plan at this stage. We don’t have a lot of med­ical in­sti­tu­tions but we do have a lot of re­sources and places that we could make avail­able if we need to make tem­po­rary hos­pi­tals and things like that. We would make spaces avail­able that we would have,” he said.

The An­gli­can church al­so an­nounced sim­i­lar mea­sures to com­bat the pos­si­ble spread of the virus.

Ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ate­ly, un­til fur­ther no­tice, full pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures must be fol­lowed at all Catholic Mass­es and Ser­vices:

• Holy Com­mu­nion will be dis­trib­uted on­ly in the hand (not on the tongue)

• No dis­tri­b­u­tion of the Pre­cious Blood

• At the ex­change of the Sign of the Peace, no hand­shakes are to be giv­en (make a small bow in­stead)

• No holy wa­ter will be pro­vid­ed for use in pub­lic spaces

• Min­is­ters who dis­trib­ute com­mu­nion must sani­tise hands be­fore and af­ter dis­tri­b­u­tion

• Sani­tise or wash hands with soap be­fore and af­ter church and af­ter leav­ing church re­stroom

• Cough or sneeze in­to a flexed el­bow or tis­sue, then throw tis­sue in­to a closed bin

• Seek med­ical as­sis­tance and stay iso­lat­ed if you ex­hib­it any flu-like symp­toms

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