Diocese Institutes Swine Flu Precautions

Diocese Institutes Swine Flu Precautions

On Tuesday, September 29, 2009 Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio instructed pastors of the Diocese of Brooklyn to only offer the consecrated Bread during the time of the people's Holy Communion. The Bishop indicated that this is a “…temporary measure that is meant to prevent possible exposure to H1N1 virus.” At the same time, the Bishop also instructed pastors to encourage communicants to receive the Blessed Sacrament in the hand and ensure that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are careful to observe sanitary precautions. The restriction will be lifted after the influenza season is concluded.

“My hope is that these precautions will help to raise awareness of the concrete steps we can take together to ensure the safety and well being of our parishioners” DiMarzio continued. Pastors were also instructed to ask those parishioners who feel unwell to refrain from shaking hands or offering a “kiss of peace” during the exchange of peace. 

310 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Communications Office Telephone (718) – 399 – 5906
Fax (718) – 399 – 5957

Contact: Msgr. Kieran Harrington

Official Website: dioceseofbrooklyn.org/default_article.aspx?id=3770&terms=swine+flu

Originally Reported on Lockergnome:

one of many concurrent threads on the topic

Since current CDC and state guidelines suggest that shared communion cups may be a source of spreading the flu viruses, and suggest (do not require) that this practice be withheld for the duration, risk management people in dioceses are carrying out their duty in advising bishops that stopping this practice, and other customs such as handshaking, listed in the guidelines.

Since the practice of routinely offering the cup to the faithful is only about 40 years old it is not some centuries old tradition of the Church that is being trampled upon.

We’ve also discontinued offering Communion under both species and only Fr. distributes Communion. (It’s added about 7 minutes to the entire Mass).

One thing that was brought up in our parish by the EMHCs themselves is that everyone thinks only of ‘drinking from the cup’ as a source of possible contamination, but ‘handling the cup’ might be a greater problem since the edge of the cup is wiped but the base that is held by everyone’s hands never is.

Are any dioceses/parishes addressing Holy Water fonts as a means of spreading disease?

We do not have the option to take the cup in the Diocese of Norwich, CT either. And have also suspended the “sign of peace”, handshakes and/or kisses. It is sad, but seems somewhat necessary due to the overwhelming risk of exposure to the many flu strains we see today. I don’t totally disagree with the position that the Bishops have taken. What our priests have replaced it with I thought rather novel; a moment of silence to wish someone you know, haven’t seen in a while, off to war, sick, etc. the Peace of Christ! What could be better than that I ask?

Funny thing regarding the absence of the sign of peace back a couple months now, after Mass one of my daughters (14) asked, very curiously, “Dad do you think they would mind if we shake hands and kiss our own family members?” My answer was quick, “why would they…”, but I still wonder…? :confused:

Here in Scotland there has been no restrictions such as those outlined in other posts. We have swine flu here - my wife and elder son (why couldn’t he keep his germs to himself LOL)
have both caught and got over the virus. I wonder though, as a confirmed sceptic, are these restrictions put in place in order to deflect any litigious claims rather than to really protect those at risk?

No way. Offering the cup was the original practice which was discontinued in the later Middle Ages in the Roman Catholic Church. It’s been continuous in the eastern Catholic Churches. It’s not a recent novelty.

Back to the topic…our Bishop has also said that communion should not be offered via the Cup due to these health concerns.

I agree with others who have noted that communion (bread) on the tongue would seem to carry the same if not more concern of transmitting germs, but our Bishop has not said anything on that.

I was watching something on TV recently where they did a study of handwashing practices of a large group (in the UK IIRC). More than 25% had fecal contamination on their hands because of faulty hand washing techniques. That would lead me to believe that Communion in the hand would be riskier than Communion on the tongue (note that I receive in the hand).

this discussion is not about Eastern church practice and reintroducing a practice that was discontinued for over 400 years is a novelty.

Yes but it is easier not to touch the hand. I used to make it a practice to always touch the person’s hand when distributing communion but since all this flu scare I have been careful to not touch anyone. It is more difficult when distributing on the tongue because the person may not put their tongue out far enough and some kind of close thier lips around your finger as you distribute. As careful as I am, sometimes I can’t help but get slurped (and those who have had this happen know what I mean). There are times when I just want to put down the ciborium and go wash my hands before I distribute to the next person.

Funny thing in my home pairsh (at work we have no restrictions so far) they said no handshaking at the sign of peace, no communion on the tongue, but they still offer the cup. Doesn’t make too much sense to me.

The PO appears to be wildly caught up in the paranoia.

Guess what, the flu is the flu. Sadly, some people with compromised immune systems or other underlying health issues die from the flu every single year.

Let the media hype die already!

You’re right, there are deaths from the flu each year. But this time we are not seeing the usual pattern of victims – way more young, previously healthy people are dying and for some not understood reason young women are more severely afflicted – and while we haven’t had death rates from swine flu that are huge here in North America, the same can’t be said for other parts of the world.

I still haven’t decided whether to get vaccinated or not – I don’t get vaccinated for the flu and have managed to avoid getting sick every year. The gov’t has a plan to vaccinate every single person in our town at the end of November – a plan that worries me more than actually getting the flu.

Influenza, including H1N1, is not spread through oral-fecal route. It’s spread through droplet infection. The biggest risk is coughing and sneezing.

This is the Diocese of London’s Pandemic Plan Summary

Phase 0
• No restrictions in liturgical practices required
• Parishes should promote previously sent Health and Safety Best Practices
• Parishes should prepare for Phase 1

Phase 1
• Temporary withdrawal of Communion from the cup
• No Communion on the tongue
• Hand sanitizers at the doors of the church
• At the greeting of peace recommend a greeting and an acknowledgement but no shaking of the hands
• Encourage parishioners to stay home if they exhibit flu-like symptoms
• Parishes should prepare for Phase 2

Phase 2
• Removal of Holy Water at the entrance of the church (to be replaced by rite of sprinkling at the beginning of Eucharist)
• Sanitizing of pews and hymnals with appropriate sanitizer before/after each Sunday Liturgy

We are currently in Phase 0. Phase 2 would probably occur around the time when civil authorities are recommending staying home from usual communal gatherings.

So far, our Bishop has only said that you are not REQUIRED to take the cup, so, if you are sick please refrain from drinking. If you don’t want to drink the blood because you feel it is unsanitary during flu season, then you don’t have to drink it.

This is what was said so far. Nothing being taken away as of now.

But, my point is, if the minister’s hands are clean/sanitized (yes, maybe a big “if”!), then communion in the hand would not seem to have any possibility of a communicant being passed on any germs.

Whereas, if the minister gives communion in the tongue, it’s not completely in their control whether or not their finger(s) may come into contact with the communicant’s mouth/lips/tongue, just risking passing on germs which could then be passed on to any subsequent communicant.

if something is “reintroduced” then de facto it’s not a “novelty.” “Novelty” means something “new.”

I thought this was a discussion about Catholic practices, I didn’t know it was restricted to only certain Catholics. Your post said “the Church” I didn’t know you meant only the Roman Catholic Church. Sorry.

Eastern Catholics and Orthodox should be the most sickly people on earth- recieving the body and blood of Christ every time by spoon that has been in the mouths of every parishoner in the church? The priest or deacon consumes all that is left after the faithful commune at every liturgy. He should, in all probability, be sick every time you see him. The reality is that neither he nor the faithful seem to be disproportonately sick from week to week! Just something to think about. :shrug:

Second-class citizenship is the unfortunate reality for Eastern Catholics. Ironic considering the state of the Latin Church today. :rolleyes: This is really a topic to be considered? Go ahead, keep making my point…

That’s true, but the priest & the EMCH usually touch my hand when they distribute Communion, in fact the EMHCs are trained to do so. So anytime they touch my hand they pick up whatever germ I have on it. Multiply that by 50 communicants and that’s a load of germs from coughing, sneezing, scratching, etc

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