Monday, 15 December 2014

Ebola Virus: Catholic Church Reverses Orders on Holy Communion, Handshakes

Following the declaration by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last October that Nigeria is an Ebola-free nation, the Catholic Bishops Conference at the weekend ordered all its priests and the lay faithful to revert to the normal practices of receiving Holy Communion through the tongue.

The church also ordered its members to resume the observance of handshake as a sign of peace during masses.

The Catholic Bishop Conference also directed that holy water founts at the entrance of churches be filled again with holy water and never to be allowed to go dry any more.

All these were duly observed at all masses prior to the outbreak of Ebola Virus  Disease (EVD) in July this year, when the same Catholic Bishop Conference met and issued a circular, that put a stop to the initial practice for fear of spreading the deadly virus through the Catholic Church.

Reading the December 2014 special circular, signed by the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, which was circulated to all Catholic Churches in Lagos Archdiocese, and across the country, the Parish Priest of St. Timothy Catholic Church, Ojodu, Rev. Fr. Gabriel Kunle Amolegbe, said the reversal order was with immediate effect.

Part of the circular read: I refer to our special circular of August, 2014 on the outbreak of Ebola Virus in which we directed that the ‘sign of peace’ through pastoral handshake be omitted, and the holy water fonts be left dry and permitted in the interim, the reception of Holy Communion in the hand, as an extraordinary practice while the Ebola alert was on. We thank God that the steps we took to contain the spread of the Ebola Virus, have been most helpful as Nigeria is now declared an Ebola free nation. To this end, we hereby direct that the church reverts to the normal and ordinary practices prior to the Ebola disease saga.”

The church, which attributed the complete cure of the EVD in Nigeria to God Almighty, said it would continue to give thanks to the Lord for prayers answered and pray that God delivers us from all forms of deadly diseases. The church also called on catholic faithfuls to continue to pray for countries that are still contending with the EVD that has claimed several lives in Sierra -Leone, Liberia and other African counties and the world at large.

The church congregation in St Timothy Catholic Church, Ojodu in Lagos, received the announcement for the reversal of the initial order, with joy and joined Rev Fr. Amolegbe in thanking God for saving Nigerians from the deadly disease.

Although the announcement was received with the clapping of hands, as a sign of happiness and acceptance.

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