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Statement from Bishop Stephen Robson to the Clergy of the Diocese


We have all been following this tragic epidemic principally in China, but now spread to many other countries, which has resulted in many thousands of infections. The death rate seems to be one death in approximately every 1000 persons infected. Those most vulnerable are the elderly, especially those whose immune system and respiratory systems are compromised, and some children.


Recommend to everyone attending Mass to maintain good hygiene especially at Mass and parish gatherings. The best way of protecting us from spread is for everyone to use universal good hygiene - particularly effective hand washing - which will effectively disrupt spread of the virus. We should be doing this all the time for ‘flu’ and colds in any case.

If sneezing becomes a necessity, let it be into a disposable handkerchief. Remember -

Catch it! - sneeze into a tissue

Bin it! - bin the tissue

Kill it! - wash your hands with soap and water

Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands

Ensure good regular cleaning of surfaces lots of people touch regularly, such as benches etc.

Ensure Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion sanitise their hands before and after distributing Holy Communion (we should be doing this anyway as a matter of course.) This can be done by washing hands discreetly before proceeding to the sanctuary or using good quality hand gel or warm water and soap. Remember to make good use of hand washing.

The Holy Water stoops for blessing at the entrance to the Church ought to be emptied (as on Good Friday and Holy Saturday). We can still bless ourselves as we enter the Church but without using Holy Water.

The Sign of Peace ought to be suspended until further notice to avoid unnecessary contact.

Encourage communicants to receive Holy Communion in the hand rather than on the tongue - or, if not, then care must be taken not to be infected by salivary contact.

Only the priest ought to communicate from the Chalice to complete the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Communication from the chalice ought to be suspended until further notice.

All Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Communion, also the priest and /or deacon, must wash or sanitise their hands before distributing communion - at Mass and other Eucharistic Services, and at the homes of those they bring Holy Communion to. All ought to comply with this and be seen to do it.

Only the Priest Celebrant or Assisting Deacon should purify the Sacred Vessels - paten, chalice and ciborium - used at Mass. This ought to be routine practice in any case as Extraordinary Ministers do not have the faculty to do this.

Sacristans, and others with responsibility in setting up for Mass, must wash their hands thoroughly before touching the Sacred Vessels and the hosts to be consecrated at Mass.

A short reflection on the sensible measures taken during mass to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.

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