Coronavirus: Sussex Bishop gives advice in time of ‘plague and anxiety’

The Bishop of Chichester has given advice about the spread of coronavirus in what he has called a time of ‘plague and anxiety’.

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 11:21 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 3:26 pm

Martin Warner is warning churchgoers to avoid physical contact, and is calling for limits on portions of consecrated wine and holy bread handed out in church.

Holy Communion, the consecrated piece of wafer or bread given to worshippers representing the body of Christ, should now be received by hand rather than directly on the tongue.

Priests are being told to use hand sanitiser and not offer the chalice of Holy Communion.

Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester

Instead, the priest presiding over the ceremony will receive a ‘very small quantity of wine’ as well as consecrated bread.

The advice has been shared in an email sent to members of the licensed clergy across East and West Sussex.

It also says the anointing of the sick can only happen after medical instruction.

While the Bishop says holy water vessels should not be refilled for devotional use until these restrictions are lifted.

Bishop Warner said, “The restrictions should continue until such a time as the dangers associated with coronavirus subside and you are notified that they can be lifted.

“Please be assured this advice is offered as a matter of necessity in the face of the spread of coronavirus. It is intended to ensure confidence in the continued access to the sacrament of Holy Communion.

“In the meantime, we hold in our prayers those who have contracted the virus, and their family and friends, as well as those in the medical profession who are urgently seeking a vaccine and caring for those already affected.

“With thanks for our witness to the gospel in this time of plague and anxiety.”

According to the latest figures from Public Health England, 319 people in the UK have positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19. Six people have died.

The latest information, published on Monday (March 9), said there were no confirmed cases in East Sussex but three in West Sussex and eight cases in Brighton and Hove.