Even God Won't Mess With the Swine Flu

Some Catholics suspend communion cup sharing

Even God is watching out for the swine flu.

They are sacred practices many Catholics are accustomed to performing during mass -- but now, drinking from a common chalice and even shaking hands will be suspended starting next weekend at churches in Pennsylvania's Allentown Catholic Diocese, according to a Lehigh County newspaper.

The traditional handshake for the sign of peace will be replaced with a bow or nod.  Some churches even are installing hand sanitizers for easy access.

Other churches said they plan to cancel services if there is a health risk.

The changes are a part of an effort to prevent the spread of H1N1 swine flu from spreading throughout the pews.  The goal is to minimize contact during worship to keep all parishioners safe.

Churches throughout the tri-state area are also taking precautions, and dioceses in Harrisburg and Altoona are making similar changes.

Last week the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the U.S. Health Department advised all religious groups to help prevent the spread of swine flu.

The changes in Allentown Catholic Diocese will stay in effect until Bishop John O. Barnes rescinds them.


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