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Priests to use cotton buds or surgical gloves when administering last rites

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BISHOP Fintan Monahan has warned priests to “use a cotton bud or surgical glove for the anointing with Holy Oil” when giving the last rites and to maintain a distance of one metre.

The Bishops of the Cashel Province (which includes Clare) issued a statement advising elderly and vulnerable priests to protect their health during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We recognise the challenges priests face in their desire to reach out pastorally while always mindful of the public health recommendations. We call on priests, especially those who are elderly and vulnerable, to take care also of themselves at this time. Their ministry of prayer, blessing and support is valuable and needed, even if it is necessary to curtail to an absolute minimum direct pastoral contact with others,” the statement reads.

When anointing the sick, priests are encouraged to avoid contact with others in the house of the person who is seriously ill.

“It is clear that some priests will themselves, because of their health condition or age, feel unable to attend to the sick person in their local parish. They may need to call on another priest from elsewhere to celebrate the sacrament,” the statement adds.

Priests are advised to stay away from family homes in the event of a funeral, for fear of spreading infection. “Mass should not be offered in family homes even in the circumstance of a bereavement. Normally, priests are advised against visiting homes at this time because priests themselves may be carriers of the virus without knowing it or the virus may be in the house,” the statement concluded.

Parishoners are also asked to avoid attending funerals at this time and instead send a letter, a text message or an an e-mail.

Elaine has been a member of staff with The Clare Echo since its foundation in October 2017. The paper's first Chief Reporter, the Kilrush woman is now working as a sub-editor in our busy newsroom. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Limerick with a Masters in Journalism. Elaine briefly worked with the RTE Investigations Unit on the Standards in Public Office investigation before returning to Clare to continue her career as a reporter with the Clare People where she spent nine months as the West Clare correspondent and also covered the 2016 General Election and 2016 Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann.

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