Clogher Diocese says ‘make up your own mind’ on shaking hands at mass

As concern grows about the spread of infection during the flu season, a catholic diocese in the region says the traditional handshake sign of peace during mass is a matter for individual priests and the people to decide on.

Despite the concern, most parishes are continuing with the handshake, which mainly takes place when there are full congregations, such as at Saturday evening and Sunday Masses.

But such were the number of queries about the issue that one diocese in the region issued a special statement in response.

The Diocese of Clogher, which includes parts of Donegal and Cavan, says the sign of peace is an optional part of the mass and is a matter for each celebrant and parish community.

It adds that peace may be exchanged other than by shaking hands, such as by a simple verbal greeting.

It also says that at the very least, parishes should ensure that Ministers of the Eucharist wash their hands before and after giving out communion.

And it urges that special arrangements, such as separate chalices, should be provided for coeliacs, who have an immune disorder.

The diocese says those with symptoms of flu should remain at home and listen to the mass on their local radio or, where they exist, on web cams.

Meanwhile, one parish in Donegal has suspended the handshake gesture for now.

Fr Cathal O Fearrai, parish priest of the Kilbarron Parish in Ballyshannon, told Ocean FM how people have reacted to the move: