Banning Eucharist on the Tongue because of H1N1

The local Diocese where I’m staying right now forbade the Eucharist on the tongue to prevent spreading of the H1N1 problem. The Archdiocese that covers this Diocese did too. I’m just curious how widespread this is. Do you guys happen to know of other Dioceses that ordered the same thing?

I like taking the Eucharist on the tongue. I hope this ban will be lifted soon. I noticed one of the Eucharistic Ministers kind of places the Eucharist in each person’s hand a little too hard. On one occassion, I noticed a very small crumb of the Host break off when he placed it into my hand. This really makes me worry. I knew enough that this small piece still contains Jesus’ Presence, but I’m also realistic enough to know most Catholics probably aren’t aware of that. That Eucharistic Minister putting the Host into my hand roughly wasn’t a one-time thing – he did it other times too. In all probability, other people who got the Eucharist from him probably have had crumbs break off. They probably would just brush it off their hands, which is horrible. I can’t bear to think of Jesus being swept away with dust. Come to think of it, I should speak with the parish priest about this.

Anyway, do other Dioceses have this same prohibition? Also, is it kind of an over-reaction? If I remember right, the US Secretary for Health and Human Services said H1N1 is no worse than the other strains of the flu. What are your thoughts?

I’ve heard of this being ordered in various Latin dioceses.

It sounds to me like an unreasonable fear. Are people’s hands less germy than their mouths? No.

In any case, H1N1 affects the RESPIRATORY tract. It has to be BREATHED in, and receiving in the hand doesn’t stop people from breathing.

Furthermore, most Byzantine Churches (Orthodox and Catholic) use a spoon to distribute Communion under both kinds into the mouths of the faithful. Think about THAT!

But I will say that if I lived under the jurisdiction of a bishop who gave such an order, I would follow his directions, and accomodate myself to the weaker brethren.


If this happened at the diocese I belong to—I would contact the CDWDS–to see if the diocese can ban communion via the tongue.

I have not heard of this ban in the St. Paul diocese. I think the ban is over the top but that is just my opinion. I would still comply though if that was the rule handed down by the diocese.


The Church in RS–2004 states that a Bishop can withdraw from his diocese —communion in the hand and/or the Chalice. There is no statement from the Church --that a Bishop can withdraw communion via the tongue.

If I should catch “swine flu” and die because I was receiving Our Lord then I don’t believe I’ll be denied entry into Heaven.
Besides, H1N1 can be transmitted by airborne dropletts, so it wouldn’t matter where you receive Our Lord.:yup:

Communion on the tongue is the norm, Communion in the Hand is a granted deviation. Communion under both forms is also an exception.

It would be better if they had the ushers wipe down the backs of the pews with an disinfectant, after each Mass and have people use every other pew. That would actually prevent the spread better.


Yes-- I know that–Br. Rich.

This rule was given here for a while, but not by the bishop, but rather the monseignor recotr of the cathederal for the cathederal parish. He also removed holy water from the doorway fonts and the chalis.
However a new bishop was instated a few months ago and he brought back the chalis and the holy water, so I would assume we can recieve on the tounge.

When they announced this rule I had just had a baby, so I was carrying a newborn with me to communion and I didn’t have free hands for recieve with. So I just recieved on the tounge in order to avoid accidents. :shrug: It was no big deal, (the decon and priests touching my babys head to give him a blessing was probably a better way to spread germs.

It isn’t banned here in the diocese of Richmond but some (I don’t think all) of the churches have asked (not demanded) that one 'refrain from receiving on the tongue, or shaking hands at the sign of peace", and the use of the chalice is ‘temporarily discontinued’. However, one can still receive on the tongue (I do) and not be refused.

In this country where I’m staying, it’s the norm to just bow when exchanging the Sign of Peace, so when they told us to refrain from bodily contact with others except family and friends, it wasn’t much of an adjustment for people because that’s what they always did anyway.

In your area, if shaking hands is not an option anymore, what custom do you have of exchanging peace? (I hope you’re not limited to that silly 1960s Austin Powers thing with the two fingers; that’s a good way to get yourself beat up after Mass).

(P.S.: Richmond – that’s Bishop DiLorenzo’s diocese, right? He was our bishop in Hawaii. How’s he doing in Richmond? And by any chance will your Diocese be having any special commemorations for Father Damien’s canonization, since your Bishop at one time oversaw his cause?)

We’ve always had the option of a nodding of the head, bow, or a simple spoken ‘peace be with y’all’ along with handshakes. (Some of us with arthritis are GLAD not to shake hands anyway, not because we don’t like the persons but because a lot of people don’t know their own strength!)

Actually it does matter where the Eucharist is delivered by the priest since some people don’t wait to receive it on their tongue and rather do the lunge and snap. We had a visiting priest lecture us once at the end of mass on that very thing. He said that some people instead of holding their position with their mouth open moved toward his hand and either touched his fingers with their tongue or bit him. Either boo-boo transfers someone’s saliva to the hand of the priest who then has no place to sanitize his hand prior to distributing communion to the remaining people.

When the first HINI cases were verified in Texas this spring our diocese did a temporary ban on the people receiving the Precious Blood and asked everyone to receive in the hand also. It was a prudent health measure because one does not have to wait for an airborne droplet of infected body fluid if the priest transfers saliva directly from one mouth to another.

my diocese did this too …it makes me sad though :frowning: I miss receiving the Eucharist on the tongue. I prefer it that way much more.

They’re just trying to be extra careful and do absolutely no harm. They don’t want any shadow of any doubt, just in case there is an outbreak. (Not that it matters–eventually someone will sue a parish over contracting H1N1, and they’ll find someone to testify that it is likely that Communion was the vector. Sad society.)

The highest-risk group for H1N1 is children and young people (up through 25 years old). Older people seem to have more immunity–we probably had H1N1 at some point in our lives and developed immunity.

This may be why the diocese feels that it is necessary to discourage the option of receiving on the tongue. They want to prevent any possibility of young people, especially children, from contracting the flu.

I work in microbiology (we got SLAMMED last spring by the sheer numbers of swine flu tests :bigyikes:). IMO, the BEST way to stop the spread of any flu (or any virus) is for people to STAY HOME!!! when they are sick.

But that’s not the American Way, is it?! We feel obligated to drag ourselves around and spread our viruses to everyone in our path. Of course, in many cases, people have to drag themselves to work out of fear of losing their job–that’s tragic and reprehensible of the employer, who should be encouraging people to STAY HOME when they’re sick. But there is absolutely no compulsion to drag ourselves to Mass–sickness is a legitimate reason to stay home from Mass.

I know that in large families, this may mean missing Mass for many weeks as sickness hits each family member. But please, just do it–just stay home and we’ll all thank you for your kindness!

I don’t know why the media doesn’t publicize “staying home” instead of just spreading panic stories around.

Two Words “Cop out”.

Did the Catholic Church stop giving communion on tongue during the flu pandemic in the early 1900’s?

No, I would say, “more advanced knowledge.”

Also, I would say, “understandable fear of lawsuit.” (Can you say, “ambulance chaser?”)

As I understand it though, they stopped letting people drink from the Chalice when there was the Black Plague, and the custom stuck centuries after the Black Plague was eliminated.

This is an excellent suggestion! I think we’d have to add on another Mass time though to accomodate everyone. Maybe just have a thing of hand sanitizer attached to the side of every pew…

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