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PEORIA — In light of the spreading coronavirus, the Diocese of Peoria, which stretches from Danville to Moline and includes much of the Champaign-Urbana area, is suspending communion from the chalice.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky urged parishes to “use prudence,” both because of the flu season and the coronavirus.

“Although, because of the alcohol content in the outward sign of the wine largely eliminates any danger of contagion, it still seems wise to take this precaution,” he wrote in a letter to the diocese. “Please remember that it is a doctrine of our Faith that the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord is truly and substantially present under either form of receiving the Blessed Sacrament.”

Parishes are also strongly urged to receive the bread “on the hand rather than on the tongue,” Jenky said.

“If people insist on receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, they should take great care to open their mouths widely and extend their tongues as far as possible, so as not to pass saliva from person to person,” Jenky said. “Earlier generations were well trained on how to ‘receive on the tongue,’ but this is clearly much less true today.”

Jenky also said that parishioners greeting each other should do so “with a smile or a wave rather than a handshake or a hug,” a common recommendation during the flu season.

And on Good Friday, Jenky said “the Faithful are urged to bless themselves before the Holy Cross rather than reverence it with a kiss.”

He also urged parishioners to take basic precautions, such as frequently washing hands and staying at home if sick.

“There is, of course, no obligation for the sick to be at Mass,” he said.

There are now more than 90,000 cases of the Covid-19 disease, which began in China and has spread to more than 70 countries.

There have been four confirmed cases in Illinois, all in the Chicago area.