Ebola patient wanting Final Anointing


Suppose a Catholic who has contracted Ebola, SARS or other very contagious infectious diseases and is dying. He or she wants to receive the Final Anointing as well as Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Blessed Sacrament. However, the priest is banned from entering the quarantine ward for public health reason.

So, how could the Catholic receive these Sacraments? Could the priest place the Host in a small vessel (or any appropriate container) and hand it in to the patient through some nurses? Or holding a telephone Confession at least when no Anointing is feasible?


Let’s look at some possible scenarios.

Confession over the phone? Not allowed. Confession through Plexiglas windows using a phone? Permitted.

The Eucharist can be slid through where all items are passed to a patient in isolation.

But for actual anointing and the most likely scenario, a priest (usually a military or hospital chaplain) can get into one of those space suits such as doctors, nurses, techs, and researchers do, when they come into contract with a patient in isolation. Of course he has to trust the decontamination process, afterwards.


The priest can put on one of those biohazard suits or whatever and go in and hear confession, grant absolution, give extreme unction. This way the priest would be able to still place the host on the tongue of the patient and anoint with oil just using gloves.


Given the circumstances, I wonder if God really cares if the form of the sacrament is scrupulously adhered to?

I mean after all we have Baptism of Desire…

Methinks we’re trying to put limits on God’s mercy and grace… He knows what’s in the heart of both the penitent asking for the sacrament, and the priest wanting to administer it.


For many years, I’ve been an RN and an EMHC in the hospital ministries of several cities. In every hospital, there has been either a priest on call, or actually a priest in house (in a Catholic hospital). If a patient desires the Sacrament of the Sick, Reconciliation, Holy Communion from a priest rather than an EMHC, or has any spiritual need, the priest will put on isolation gear and enter the room. Recently, we have seen an increase locally in drug resistant TB- which is airborne and, unless Ebola has mutated, much more contagious than Ebola! Not only does the priest always visit the patient, but as an EMHC, I’m also expected to enter the room and offer Holy Communion. Ebola is exotic and death from this disease sounds horrific, but it differs very little from DIC in the final stages. There is little risk to anyone entering an isolation room, as long as procedures are meticulously followed. And, more importantly, the sick patient is able to receive Christ in the presence of another person, in the sacraments and in the Eucharist.


My suggestion to you is please Read Her or Him Prayers from the True Life In God Books. You can print out the Prayers and the Photo of Christ that is in the True Life In God Messages. Leave it under your friends Pillow. Many Blessings and Miracles through the Messages. I shall be praying for her/him.

I shall then fill you … hear Me and write My message for the entire worldpeace be with you; Love is speaking; Love is offering; Love is healing, even injuries that appeared to be beyond healing; Love is consoling those who are not cared for; My Love for you is eternal and I am known to be constant in My affection; True Life In God (TLIG.ORG)


This anecdotal experience…made my day. Thank you, thank you for confirming what a priest may do for a suffering person whose disease is both contagious and ugly. It’s very…Fr. Damien like.


Thank you for this witness. I always assumed that’s how it worked but it’s nice to hear from someone who has experienced it first hand.


Thanks for all the reassurance!!! :):thumbsup: As a medical student I’m pleased that my future patients will be taken care of spiritually even at the worst scenarios.


Priests, in my experience, consider the well-being of others before they consider themselves. Whether a priest is in a country where preaching the gospel and ministering to others can mean being martyred, or whether he is entering a hospital room of a sick or contagious person, he will put his fears and needs aside for the service of God and the soul of another. Priests definitely enter isolation rooms- as do doctors and nurses- and the ministry the priest provides is, in my opinion, more important to the salvation of the patient for he tends to, comforts and gives peace to the soul. :slight_smile:


It’s their priestly duty to administer the Sacraments (while taking whatever precautions are necessary under the circumstances).

Many priests died of the plague and other illnesses because they ministered to the dying. St. Damien contracted leprosy on Molokai by being a priest in that leper colony. Other priests have been killed on battlefields anointing dying soldiers. We had a photo on the wall in my grade school of a priest on the burning deck of an aircraft carrier in the Pacific anointing a dying sailor in WWII. That photo moved me to tears as an adolescent.

May we all have the courage and grace to perform the religious duties of our state of life even in the most trying and unpleasant circumstances.


There are extraordinary forms for all the sacraments. In the case of quarantine, the bishop of the diocese would most likely give permission for those forms to be allowed. Even if there is no time to get the bishop’s approval, the priest is allowed to administer some of those extraordinary forms if the recipient is in imminent danger of death. In the case of imminent death, the priest is allowed to grant general absolution without hearing the confession and invoke a plenary indulgence, freeing them from their temporal duration of purification in purgatory. In layman’s terms that means that if they don’t sin from the time of the absolution to the time of their death, they are going straight to heaven.
If any of the technicians, nurses, or doctors who are cleared to enter quarantine are Catholic, a dispensation can be given to train that person as an extraordinary minister, if they are willing, and have the extraordinary minister administer the viaticum to the patient.

Most of this would most likely be moot anyway, as most hospitals have a Catholic priest who is either a chaplain or associated with them that would be cleared to be trained in the proper procedure for quarantine.


In highly contagious situations, we must not only worry about the health of the priest, but the fact also that the priest, if he catches the virus, can pass it onto others. The idea is to stop an epidemic.

So proper precautions must be followed, and if the situation means “no contact” that should be adhered to. As mentioned there are extraordinary forms for quarantine, thanks for pointing that out.


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