CONCERNS about the current outbreak of Australian flu have resulted in changes to the traditional ‘sign of peace’ within several dioceses across Tyrone.
The sign of peace, which takes place just before Holy Communion, is usually given by a simple handshake.
However, in a bid to combat the spread of the flu, parishes in the Omagh area have been asking parishioners to show an ‘appropriate sign of peace’ as part of the Mass.
The same has been applied to Masses held in the Armagh Diocese, while the Diocese of Clogher has urged people to follow the advice given by the public health authorities in relation to restricting the spread of the flu.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Diocese said that the sign of peace was an optional part of the Mass and a matter for each celebrant and parish community.
“It should also be noted that the Peace may be exchanged by means other than shaking hands, such as a simple verbal greeting,” they said.
“Parishes should keep the matter under review and be conscious of the ongoing public health situation. At the very least parishes are asked to ensure that ministers of the Eucharist wash their hands before and after the distribution of Holy Communion and special arrangements, such as separate chalices, should be in place for coeliacs.
“Everyone has a responsibility to minimise the spread and impact of any public health threat and this should apply in all situations of daily social interaction.”