MASSGOERS in Cork have been asked not to shake hands as a sign of peace by the Bishop of Cork.
Dr John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross, has asked parishioners to show respect through other means in a bid to combat the spread of the flu epidemic hitting Cork.
As record numbers of patients present themselves at city hospitals showing symptoms of the illness, the Bishop of Cork has urged people to be mindful of their fellow Corkonians in a bid to stop the spread.
"I know we are experiencing high numbers of hospital admissions directly linked to the current flu virus," Bishop Buckley told the Evening Echo.
"Many people are presenting at hospitals with respiratory symptoms directly linked to the current virus, as I have seen from my visits to the hospitals.
"Having received communications and letters from parishioners and from health professionals regarding the flu virus, I am recommending that shaking hands as the sign of peace should be suspended until the current crisis has passed."
Bishop Buckley said that the traditional handshake could be replaced with another gesture to show respect instead.
He said, "In this context, I am asking parishes to suspend the sign of peace and perhaps replace with another gesture, such as a silent reflective prayer for the troubled areas in the world.
"There are 60-70,000 people attending Mass, including weddings and funerals, each week in the Diocese of Cork and Ross. This gesture takes their health into consideration too."