LAGOS, DECEMBER 16, 2014(CISA) – The Nigerian Catholic Bishops Conference has ordered all priests and lay faithful to revert to normal practices of receiving Holy Communion through the tongue and resume observance of handshake as a sign of peace during Mass.
This follows the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) in October that Nigeria is an Ebola-free nation.
In a circular to all Catholic Churches in the country and signed by the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Alfred Adewale Martins, the bishops said the reversal was to be effected immediately.
“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,” Nigeria’s THIS DAY newspaper quoted the bishops as saying.
“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 bishops added.
The Bishops 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 again.
All these doctrines were duly observed at all Masses in Catholic churches before the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in July this year, when the Bishop’s Conference met and issued a circular, that put a stop to the practices for fear of spreading the virus through the Catholic Church.
The Bishops attributed the zero case status of the EVD in Nigeria to God Almighty saying 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 enjoined catholic faithful to continue to pray for countries that are still contending with the virus.