El Paso, TX - The El Paso Catholic Diocese sent a memo to all parishes asking priests, deacons, and others to practice proper hygiene in the midst of a harsh flu season. The Diocese is also asking those who are sick to refrain from drinking from the cup during communion.
Patricia Fierro, the Chancellor for the Diocese of El Paso, said, "When you take communion, you're taking the body and the blood of Christ, so even if you only receive the host and not the precious blood, you're still receiving communion."
Those who are sick or concerned about getting sick can also refrain from the handshake of peace. Most parishes have hand sanitizer at the entrance to the church for parishioners to wash their hands.
These measures come as the flu is widespread in most of the United States. The Associated Press reports that 1 in 15 doctors visits last week were for flu symptoms. That is the highest rate of flu related visits since the swine flu pandemic in 2009.
The Diocese of El Paso says that there haven't been any problems concerning the flu among their parishes, but they want to remind church goers to wash their hands and practice proper hygiene.