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Local Catholic Churches Continue Traditional Practices Despite Swine Flu Threat

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Roman Catholic Church has not handed down any directive to stop hand shaking or distributing wine during Mass this flu season. Catholics offer one another a "sign of peace" during their worship with a handshake. Many churches also serve wine from chalices at communion.

Bishop Edward Kmeic -- who leads the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo -- says they have not told parishes to halt handshaking or stop distributing wine. He says it's all about common sense for parishioners.

Parishes, like St. Andrew's in Tonawanda, place brief notes in bulletin to discuss spreading the flu. For those who prefer not to shake hands, it suggests a simple smile or slight bow. At St. Rose of Lima Church in North Buffalo during its children's Mass, the leader of the faith formation group hands out antibacterial wipes to children who then go out into the congregation to offer the "sign of peace." For now Bishop Kmeic says they will continue to monitor any changes in the spread of swine flu.

Earlier this month the White House Office for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Department of Health and Human Services issued precautions to prevent the spread of swine flu.

Click the audio player above to hear Eileen Buckley's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.