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Filipino Cardinal's anti-SARS request to avoid kissing icons

On Saturday, Manila's Cardinal Jaime Sin urged Catholics to stop kissing religious icons, revised the practice of communion and ordered "emergency" prayers to ward off the advent of the deadly SARS virus.

In a two-page circular released to parishes and religious communities, Sin implored the country's Catholic majority to stop the practice of kissing (also wiping with their handkerchiefs) religious icons displayed for public veneration.

"In this moment of uncertainty about this illness, we highly recommend that communion in the hand be practiced," Sin added.

This means priests should place the communion host in the hands of the communicants, rather than placing it directly into their mouths as is customary.

The cardinal also appealed to Catholics to storm the heavens with special prayers normally said in times of "calamities and inexplicable natural catastrophes."

This prayer is called the Oratio Imparata, or obligatory prayer. Sin called on the parishes to recite this prayer during daily Mass, asking God to "protect us and spare us who are faced with the danger of the mysterious sickness of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome."

The obligatory prayer originated from the early century Catholic Church and is a plea for help for those "contaminated" with diseases. It seeks divine intervention in times of calamities and inexplicable natural catastrophes.


Philippine Leader: SARS 'Grave Challenge' (AP)
Philippines: Parishioners Help Get Food To Villagers Isolated By SARS (UCA News)
SARS fears lead Massachusetts shrine to ask Canadians to stay home (Catholic News Service)
Chinese Catholics cope with SARS epidemic (EWTN)
SARS causes Canada to curtail religious services (17/4/03)

28 Apr 2003