Maine’s Catholic Church will soon go back to the traditional ways of passing the peace and sharing mass now that the risk of swine flu has faded.

Bishop Richard Malone, after consulting with state health officials, is lifting the special H1N1 flu protocols effective Palm Sunday weekend, March 27-28, the Portland diocese announced today.

That means parishioners will no longer be encouraged to offer only a verbal greeting instead of a handshake during the sign of peace, and will no longer be encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand rather than on the tongue. The precautions were put in place in November to reduce the risk of spreading the flu.

Ministers will continue to practice proper hygiene and parishioners who are ill are still urged to stay home or at least refrain from shaking hands or receiving communion from the chalice.

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