SAN DIEGO – Bishop Robert McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, issued the following statement March 4 concerning changes parishioners and the public will see at Mass to respond to concerns about the spread of what is now known as COVID-19 or the coronavirus. The diocese is continuing to stay in touch with state and local public health authorities and will be guided their by advice:
“The spread of the new coronavirus into the United States poses a challenge to all of us which demands vigilance, prudence and calm. We know the anxiety level is high, but the level of the virus in our population remains low, far smaller than the seasonal flu.
“Nevertheless, I want to respond to those concerns and examine whether we need to make some temporary changes in our celebration of the Eucharist.
“For now, all parishes will suspend the practice of sharing Communion (the Precious Blood) by cup. All parishes will also take steps toward limiting the distribution of the Eucharist on the tongue. As to the Sign of Peace, that part of the Mass where Catholics traditionally extend hugs or handshakes, people are simply asked to be prudent; touching is not required.”
“We remain in close communication with State and County public health authorities and will advise our faith community if further changes are needed.”