Communion only in the hand

In India, about 140 parishes of the Syro-Malabar Church are prohibiting communion on the tongue, for health reasons.

In the wake of the Nipah outbreak, the Thamarassery diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church has issued a circular to the parish priests to serve the communion during the mass only on the hand.

The custom of serving the communion on the tongue by priests will be discouraged as part of the efforts to support the Health Department’s drive against the viral disease.

Priests in nearly 120 parishes under the Thamarassery diocese will heed the bishop’s advisory issued on Friday.

Nearly 20 parishes in Malappuram district too will follow suit.

You can read the whole story here. 


  1. There is nothing in the story about sharing the cup, but it seems the Nipah virus might possibly be transmittable by drinking liquid, so one would hope that also would be discouraged.

  2. Thanks, Rita,

    I’m glad for this reference. I am always struck at how unhygienic communion on the tongue is.

    I find that I rarely get through a Sunday without someone sucking my finger. I start administering Communion with my thumb and first finger. Then when someone licks that finger, I move on to the second finger. Some Sundays I am using my baby finger by the end of Communion.

    IMHO Communion on the tongue is a much greater health hazard than Communion on the hand (or even Communion from the Chalice, a few years ago the CDC did a study on this and showed how it is not really a problem for infectious disease).

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