Ebola: Catholics ban handshakes
from HENRY IFEANYI in Lagos, Nigeria
LAGOS – THE Nigerian Catholic Church has suspended all forms of physical contact, including handshakes among worshippers, as part of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.
The directive to all branches of the church in Lagos was contained in a
statement by the Catholic Archbishop of the Metropolitan City of Lagos,
Adewale Martins, titled, “The Outbreak of Ebola Virus – a Pastoral Approach.”
“Taking into consideration the fact that this rite is optional, we shall
henceforth omit it i.e. not invite people to offer the sign of peace. When you get to this rite, skip it,” Martins said in the statement.
Apart from calling for the discontinuation of placing of water bowls at the entrances of parishes of the church, the Archbishop encouraged the use
of gloves when counting offerings as other means of stemming the virus’
“The use of Holy Water Fonts at the entrance of the church should be
discontinued forthwith until the virus alert is lifted. This does not preclude private use of Holy waters in homes and offices.”
The statement also sent a message to priests attending the infected.
“Priest are also advised to be cautious when visiting sick members, especially when they are to administer the sacrament of anointing for the sick.
“They are equally advised to avoid physical contacts when giving out the Holy Communion to members. Priests should exercise caution when they
go for sick calls, particularly when they have to administer the sacrament
of the anointing of the sick.
“They should ensure regular hand washing after visiting patients in the hospital or homes,” Martins said.
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Metropolitan, John Cardinal Onaiyekan
also called on members of the church to refrain from shaking hands
during the sign of peace session.
Onaiyekan however clarified that the warning does not mean that the church
had banned shaking of hands during mass.
“We did not ban handshaking during mass. We are only discouraging it and
it is going to be temporary until it is clear that Nigeria is no longer under Ebola threat,” he said.
The Catholic Church forms one of the largest Christian congregations in
– CAJ News
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