Common Cup Suspended in Response to COVID-19

Posted March 11, 2020

Chalice

Bishop Susan Bell has made the decision to suspend the sharing of the common cup at celebrations of the Eucharist within the Diocese of Niagara, effective immediately. The decision was made after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic at the same time as the first coronavirus case was confirmed within the diocesan boundaries. 

"While the Public Health Agency of Canada continues to assess the risk associated with this virus as low," writes Bishop Bell in a new pastoral letter, "as a faith community we must be particularly diligent in our hygiene practices for the wellbeing of our communities, particularly those who are vulnerable."

Priests have been directed to consecrate both the bread and the wine, and to consume in both kinds, but to administer only the Body of Christ to the congregation, thereby suspending the practice of the common cup. While this is an extraordinary measure, the Church has long held the view that it is sufficient to receive communion in one kind. 

In addition to previously announced liturgical hygiene measures, including a contact-free exchange of the peace, the Bishop is also asking parishes to receive offerings from a stationary location, rather than passing a plate. A full list of the liturgical hygiene practices that are to be followed is available here.

These measures are being taken "out of an abundance of caution" and will remain in place until further notice. 

To reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, including coronaviruses, the Ministry of Health advises Ontario residents to wash their hands often, avoid contact with people who are sick, and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette.

Bishop Susan also asks prayers for all who are ill with this virus, for their caregivers, and for healthcare workers and researchers working to limit the virus’ spread. 

The diocese will continue to monitor the situation and provide parishes with the best evidence-based advice available from public health officials given the assessed level of risk.

For more information related to COVID-19, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada's website.