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Vermont bishop bans common communion cup in protective measure to help stop flu


(RNS) As Americans rush for a limited supply of flu vaccines, the Roman Catholic bishop of Vermont has told his priests not to allow parishioners to drink from a common Communion cup or exchange a sign of peace.

Bishop Kenneth Angell of Burlington, in a brief message sent to priests on Oct. 25, said the ban will remain in effect through Easter as a "protective measure."

Angell's directive is thought to be the first in the country as many Americans plan to go unvaccinated in the flu season. Vaccine supplies were slashed after a British lab that supplied most of the vaccines was shut down for unsanitary conditions.

In April 2003 during an outbreak of the SARS virus in Canada, Catholic officials discouraged a handshake during the sign of peace and told worshippers not to kiss the crucifix as a sign of veneration during Holy Week.