Ebola’s defeat: Catholics resume handshake at Masses

Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Adewale Martins
Alfred Adewale Martins qed.ng
Alfred Adewale Martins anointing a Catholic faithful

Two months after the World Health Organisation (WHO) certified Nigeria Ebola free, Catholics in Lagos have been given the all clear to resume offering each other the traditional handshake during Masses.

The directive, given by the Archbishop of Lagos, Most Reverend Alfred Adewale Martins, was communicated to faithful on Sunday.

Fears arose after the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) got to Nigeria in July over possible transmission through the handshake exchanged as a sign of peace by Catholics during worship.

The Church in Nigeria had advised its members to suspend the handshake as part of measures to prevent spreading the disease.

Also affected was the drawing of Holy Water from fonts in churches and the reception of Communion in the mouth.

Those who wished continued to receive Communion in the mouth while others were allowed to receive it by hand.

Our correspondent who was at Divine Mercy Catholic Chaplaincy in Ikorodu on Sunday reports that worshipers rejoiced when the Chaplain, Rev Fr. Joe Ben Onyia, declared that members could offer each other the sign of peace.

Martins’ full statement as obtained by qed.ng reads: “I refer to our Special Circulars of August on ‘The Outbreak of Ebola Virus: A Pastoral Approach’ and ‘Communion-in-the-Hand’ in which we directed that the sign of peace be omitted, the Holy Water fonts be left dry and, permitted in the interim, the reception of the Holy Communion in the hand as an extraordinary practice while the Ebola virus alert was on.

“We thank the Lord 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, I hereby direct that we revert to the normal/ordinary practices prior to the Ebola disease saga.

“We must continue to give thanks to the Lord for prayers answered and pray that He delivers us from all forms of deadly diseases.

“Let us also keep up our prayers for the countries that are still contending with the Ebola virus.”