The swine flu outbreak is causing changes for some Catholic masses throughout the Chicago Archdiocese -- with the option for parishes to stop serving wine at communion.
Usually, Catholics drink from a single chalice, passed to members of the church, and merely wiped with a cloth. Priests in some neighborhoods have decided that is not enough to deter concerns about passing the flu virus. So, instead some have decided there will be no wine at all.
Priests have met to discuss new guidelines and are implementing them immediately. The Archdiocese said in a statement that it is not mandating any changes to Holy Communion -- but leaving it up to priests to decide. In parishes that will continue to make wine a part of communion, parishioners and priests who aren't feeling well are asked not to take part.
Priests are also advising parishioners to be a little stand-offish these days.
"We are a huggy community, so we need to also limit our contact with each other," Father Rene Mena, from St. Agnes in Pilsen said.
There will be no handshake of peace with church members at that Pilsen parish, and Fr. Mena will no longer greet and shake hands with his flock at the end of mass.
The swine flu outbreak is happening as the First Communion season is about to begin. That's when young Catholics receive communion for the first time. That celebration will also be limited while the swine flu scare continues.