Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Charlotte's St. Matthew Church restricts Communion during flu season

CHARLOTTE — St. Matthew Church in Charlotte has temporarily suspended distribution of the Precious Blood during Communion, responding to general concern about the increase in local influenza rates.

There is no evidence that a shared communion cup transmits germs, but many clergy across the U.S. – particularly dioceses in New York, Boston and parts of Texas – have adopted similar measures as the number of flu cases has risen. The choice to distribute the Eucharist under one or both species is usually left up to individual pastors. The Diocese of Charlotte has not issued any diocese-wide guidelines.

Monsignor John McSweeney, pastor of St. Matthew Church, also cautioned parishioners to limit hand-to-hand contact during the exchange of peace or the Lord's Prayer at Mass. The parish has also placed hand sanitizer dispensers at all of the church's entrances.

With nearly 30,000 members, St. Matthew Church is one of the largest parishes in the U.S. The parish took similar precautions during the H1N1 flu epidemic in 2009.

— Catholic News Herald