Peace be with you, but no touching: Flu season altering Mass
Clouds are lit by the rising sun over St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia, on Sept. 27, 2015. (AP / Julio Cortez)
PORTLAND, Maine -- Widespread influenza across Maine has prompted the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to alter some traditions to keep parishioners healthy.
The diocese announced Thursday that it's suspending the sharing of consecrated wine during communion and holding hands during the Lord's Prayer. The diocese is also discouraging parishioners from shaking hands while greeting each other during the passing of the peace.
Other specific guidance calls for priests to place the host into worshippers' hands instead of on their tongues during communion, and to use hand sanitizer before and after communion.
The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there's "widespread" flu activity.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urges priests to practice good hygiene and sick parishioners to do what they can not to spread the flu.